June 13, 2013
A follow up of the Knight street Bridge post
We are at the SB on Ramp from SE Marine Drive to Knight Street Bridge (apriori into Vancouver juridiction), the location is 7800 Knight bridge street according to VPD tickets issued right there…But who should get a ticket?
According to the Vancouver Police Department, the ticket issued will look like below:
Nota: It was no movable sign, at the time the ticket was issued, but a police cruiser was parked exactly the same way. The cops, far to be ashamed to block the bike lane, were explaining it was dangerous to ride on the roadway without an helmet. No argument is necessary in such case…
Indeed it is dangerous (the most dangerous spot in Canada by the way!): Could it be the cyclists fault?
The result of it, in the last 5 years,
- 13,154 helmet ticket issued in the last 5 years 
- How many ticket, for dangerous obstruction of a bike lane? 
 Is it illegal to deliberately obstruct a bike lane? apparently not in BC!
 Ticketed cyclists not paying their helmet fines,Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier, Sunday June 9th, 2013
December 18, 2012
(Thought he mentions that he “would like to re-open this discussion”, the comment section of his site is closed)
- I don’t think too much of the multi venue idea (also proposed by Bob Rennie ); which if considered, should be region-wise, and not Vancouver centric, to bring culture to people, rather than expect people to travel to the most improbable locations to see a tiny part of what the VAG has to offer.
- I guess the idea to build, even underground, something in Stanley park, is just plain provocative, in a try to generate some media attention: Stanley park should be a nature sanctuary.
That said, a good idea emerges: the use of a bridge for something else than transportation.
The idea beyond the infra-urbanity neologism
Vancouver, is a city of bridges. One has always to cross a bridge to move around and bridges are part of the Vancouver DNA. but so far bridges have been seen only as infrastructure -we like to routinely replace- designed as pure links, like freeways, with no urban contribution whatsoever. That is, the bridge is not considered as a place of exchange or life in itself. Thought some efforts have been suggested to improve the bridge experience, they should be considered as a starting point :
With Granville bridge, we have an opportunity, to change that, be with an art gallery or something else, in its truss, encouraging strolling on the bridge, and taking advantage of it (rain shelter) to bring the city one step forward. In that sense the Michael Green contribution, bringing the old idea of “living bridge” into the debate is welcome.
 A fresh vision for the old art gallery, Marsha Lederman, Globe and Mail, Dec 14, 2012
 see Price tags
 Rennie releases proposal for multi-venue art gallery system, Marsha Lederman, Globe and Mail, Dec 12, 2012
October 5, 2012
Some Addendum on Nov 23, taking finding of 
The Clark government has decided that the George Massey tunnel need to be replaced, why?
The tunnel is congested
Of course, but how congested is the tunnel (see our bridge traffic post for more context)?
By reasonable standards, the level of congestion in the tunnel is manageable noticing that there is a significant amount of time where traffic is free flow. Beside the lack of substantiation, the announce, that the Delta port extension will generate an additional 1700 daily truck trips , has to be taken with a grain of salt:
- It represents only 2% of the actual traffic, what the Tunnel used to handle in the past
- It represents only 1% of the actual Tunnel capacity
The question one should asks, is:
Never mind the present (or the port),
population growth will make the tunnel congested in the future anyway?
The past trend suggests otherwise: the region has already experimented a significant population growth, which has not prevented a declining trend for the traffic into the tunnel:
But why people see it differently?
The Province has engineered a funnel effect at the tunnel portals, that is feeding the tunnel with more lanes than it can handle, this in the disguise of Transit investment:
In light of the above, one must asks: Is the George Massey tunnel replacement the best we can do to improve the lower mainland traffic?
The Clark government seems already have made his mind on it, but where are the studies and analysis supporting the replacement choice?
Is building more road the way to alleviate congestion?
Is it some other solutions?
At least two avenues deserve to be explored: better transit and road pricing, both working better hand in hand
Currently, the transit modal share in the tunnel is nothing to cheer about:
|Transit modal share||Lions gate Bridge||George Massey Tunnel|
|overall (all day all direction)||> 20%||~ 11%|
|AM peak hr To Vancouver direction||> 36%||~ 19%|
|PM peak hr leaving Vancouver direction||> 28%||~ 18%|
It is not better than the average mode share in the region, way far below than what is witnessed on the Lions gate bridge, and even much lower than the 2020 provincial transit plan’s target, 17% . There is no reason for such dismissal modal share when a level of transit similar to the one witnessed on the Lions gate could remove enough car (~12000 per day, or 1200 peak hour NB, that is almost the capacity of a full lane!) to make the tunnel virtually congestion free. Transit offer could be much better for people coming from south of the tunnel. It doesn’t necessarily require a huge investment (Proper bus lane and queue jumper are among them) and we believe a lot can be done in the current Translink budget, some suggestion below:
A Vancouver network more accessible from the South of Fraser
First, Translink needs to recognize that not all people are heading to downtown and has to provide a larger access to Vancouver from south of the Fraser. A suggestion already made in a previous post is to extend most of the North South Vancouver bus route to either Marine Drive or Knight Bridge.
A Richmond network more accessible from the South of Fraser
A Proper branding
Lastly, when the service level is objectively good, people need to know it. Branding is important as we have already seen with the suggestion of code sharing to create a B #699 line between Ladner and BridgePort, leveraging the existing #601 and #620 routes.
What is the cost of congestion in the tunnel?
Phenomenal will tell some…some more substantiated studies will tell at which level a toll needs to be set to avoid congestion (That is the real economic cost). In the case of the George Massey tunnel, it is at a level such that the congestion toll need to be in effect not much more than 5hr per day, and could rise only $46 millions  as we have already seen in a previous post.
…that barely pay for the interest of a $1Billion debt…
Regarding the George Massey tunnel, the choice the Vancouver region should face is not “do you prefer a tunnel or a bridge as replacement” but do you prefer:
- Pay an infrastructure toll, at all time, to help to finance a new crossing, knowing the toll will probably not be enough and taxpayer money will be required
- Pay a congestion toll, that is a toll only at time where congestion could occurs, the toll revenue helping to finance transit alternative reducing the demand pressure for road space (see our congestion charge post for more detail)
The first solution needs 10 years time frame to be implemented and doesn’t resolve transit funding issue. The second solution, which doesn’t preclude the first one in due time , can be implemented overnight and resolves the congestion issue now as well as provide transit funding. Which alternative is the best?
We humbly suggest that the best alternative is the one requiring the less tax-payer and user fee money.
That said, some other parameters need to enter in consideration, like
- Structure resilience to earthquakes
- Road safety issue
- Marine traffic
On the later, some rumors suggest that the presence of the tunnel is limiting the possible amount of marine traffic, due to draft restriction. The Nautical chart of the Fraser river tell another story. In fact the depth along the channel is around 11 meters, 12 meters above the Tunnel.
Allowing ships with greater draft than allowed now could require considerable dredging of the Fraser channel, from the Stevenson jetty far end to East of the tunnel, as well as significant on going maintenance, due to constant build up of sandspit. That certainly has a non negligible ecological cost as well. The economic rational of this is pretty unclear, and we notice that around the world, ports don’t seem to develop operation inland…beside barging (option here restrained by the railway bridge at New West)… since not all ports can count on a government building road for free to them.
 Delta port truck gate hour of operation are 7am-12pm and 12:30pm 4pm Monday to Friday
 From Freeway to feeway: Congestion pricing policies for BC’s Fraser River crossing, Peter Wightman, Simon Fraser University, 2008
 Christy Clark announces plans to replace George Massey Tunnel, VancouverSun, September 29, 2012
 BC MOT
 Lions Gate Bridge / Marine Drive Transit Priority Study: Summary of Technical Study , Translink/IBI. peak hour number are extrapolated of hourly traffic graph
 Highway 99 corridor assessment, draft v.1.5, Januray 2009, BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (report got thru civicsurrey.com). Notice: thought the transit numbers of this report pre-date the advent of the Canada line, they are based on a bus count (36 in peak hour/direction), which is the same as of November 2012.
 The Provincial Transit Plan, 2008
January 3, 2012
It is Charles de Gaulle avenue, one of the busiest European highway , carrying no less than 150,000 vehicles/day, which Neuilly wants to put it into a tunnel. fair enough!… but not that simple. First, the cost- a fantastic €1 billion for a less than 1.5km tunnel. Secondly, 8 to 10 years of construction. Thirdly and probably more important, arises the question of what should look the Avenue…2 different visions: On the surface…one presents an avenue with a large median while another prefers an avenue with contre allées:
On what could be probably considered as mere cosmetics by many, the France’s Head of state, Nicolas Sarkozy carries all his weight into a battle, engaged by franc tireur Jean Christophe Fromantin, involving the Mayor of Paris and having as soldiers no less than architects like Castro, Foster or Pei….Why that?
- Because behind an apparently benign Boulevard configuration, what is at stake is 2 fundamentally different visions of the city.
But…first a bit of context:
The geographic context
Neuilly sur Seine, tucked on the west side of Paris, between the Champs-Élysées and la Défense, and bordering the magnificent Bois de Boulogne parisian park, is the most affluent Parisian suburb.
Its Avenue Charles de Gaulle, linking Paris to La Defénse, in the Champs Élysées alignment, is part of the Royal axis, envisioned by André Le Notre in 1640.
An avenue of superlative
Nowadays this 70 meters wide avenue carries a staggering amount of traffic, ~150,000 vehicles/day . That is only the tip of the iceberg: 80% of the trips occur in fact below the surface, where run one of the world busiest subway line and one of the world most busiest train line .
Today, Not only the avenue, but also its origin, the Porte Maillot, marking the limit between Neuilly and Paris, are a far cry to the standard their “world class” location commends:
Avenue Charles de Gaulle is also part of the national road network (where it is then called RN13) and is considered as a strategic axis, under direct state supervision.
The political context.
Nicolas Sarkozy was mayor of Neuilly, a right-wing stronghold, before winning the presidential election in 2007, and was then carrying the burying project of the RN13 road. At the 2008 city election, he was endorsing his protege David Martinon to be his successor for Neuilly…It should have been a formality matter, but a franc tireur, Jean Christophe Fromantin came into the way, and will be elected Mayor of Neuilly (60,000 inhabitants) at the great displeasure of the Sarkozy’s clan. To mitigate the damage, Jean Sarkozy, the President’s son will be candidate, and be elected as expected, as a district councillor for a Neuilly ward. He will be vested instantaneously as the wip of his party, which incidentally control the district council (1.5 millions of people), and will be also president of the District’s Transport commission.
The Paris Regional area, like Paris is under control of the left (PS): Jean Paul Huchon is president of the Paris regional council (which oversight 12 millions people) while better known Bertrand Delanoë is mayor of the influential Paris city (2 millions inhabitant).
All of the above political actors have an opinion on the tunnelling under the Avenue Charles de Gaulle. We shouldn’t forget the still powerful prefect of Paris, Daniel Canepa, appointed by the president, and in charge to represent the interests of the “state”.
The least opinionated is may be the The president of the region whose doesn’t want to pay for it:
- The cost of tunneling 1.5km of road, €1 billion, can also buy 8km of Express subway tunnel, and that is more inline with the regional priority.
The 2 different options
The pastoral vision
Up to 2007, it was no much discussion on what to do with the avenue, and the credo up to then could have been tunnel=park…So the general idea was that “traffic” is bad and needs to be put into the tunnel. As much as possible tunnel accesses need to be provided to this effect: That is known as the Complete burying of the avenue. The project was very Neuilly centric, and it was no consideration of the avenue context in the “Étoile-La Défense” axis. Thought that the City of Neuilly will have commissioned 2 different architecture studies, Bressac-Huet and vasconi-Natale, their work was just to be considered as informal contribution for a 2006 debate. The ‘official’ study was focusing on the tunnel not taking into account the urban environment . The renderings of the project as of 2006, reflect it:
The large grassed median avenue is modeled on the Avenue de Breteuil in Paris, an avenue commending some of the highest real estate price in the city. Thought it is pretty, it is also dull and lifeless..
The social and economic justification of this project is basically null , nevertheless this pastoral vision is the one supported by the Sarkozy family.
The “global” vision
“the complete burying is a reductionist approach, taking account only the neighbors comfort”…said the Neuilly’s mayor, Jean Christophe Fromantin , whose think that ““kill all the traffic” is destructing value” . In 2008, it will expose an alternative project, then called axe13 , based on 2 main principles:
- Charles de Gaulle Avenue, between Paris and La Défense, deserves an ambitious project in surface
- It is the the surface project which is defining the quality of the urbanism project and justifying, or not, a tunnel (and not necessarily the traffic level)
Fromantin will have got the discrete and benevolent involvement of some pretty famous firms and architects before exposing the idea to public: The project is based on a less ambitious tunneling reduced to regional transit traffic only -that is known as the partial burying of the avenue: Gone are the tunnel portals in the middle of the avenue, but also a much more urban avenue is proposed, which found its inspiration more in La rambla of Barcelona than the Avenue de Breteuil of Paris:
- Tranquility of the neighbors is not the main objective anymore, the main one is to create an attractive urban space.
Below are some configuration of the 70 meters wide avenue
But what will buy the support of Paris , beyond the sweet taste of supporting a project creating the ire of the Sarkozy’s clan , is the integration of the project in a relatively “global” context:
Pont de Neuilly
In the early stage, the highlight of the project was at the western end of the Avenue, Pont de Neuilly, a bridge over the Seine river. Renewing with a Middle age tradition, Fromantin is envisioning to transform it into a living bridge on the model of the Hadi Teherani bridge project in Hamburg. It has been no lack of leading architect contributions, among them some from Pei or Piano : none of them catch-up with the Fromantin idea…none of them have been convincing enough so far either…
But in fact, with the project maturing , Porte Maillot, connecting the avenue on the eastern edge, is affirming itself as the project’s gravity center.
The emergence of Porte Maillot
Porte Maillot has long been neglicted, not to say that its potential has been ignored by architect like Le Corbusier . It is technically on Paris territory, so it can looks curious to see the Neuilly’s mayor proposing the redesign of something not under its jurisdiction, but he probably didn’t do it without involving Paris city-hall.
At the difference of the pastoral vision, in the global vision, the traffic is not feeding into Paris anymore: it is directed directly to the Boulevard Périphérique, a ring road expressway surrounding Paris – so the tunnel is not designed to be a faster way to enter into Paris: people going to Paris-Porte Maillot- still have to stay on the surface. The absence of portal unleashes the urban potential of Porte Maillot:
- In such instance, it is expected that the residual surface traffic to be an healthy 30,000 to 40,000 vehicles/day, when 85,000 to 150,000 could travel into tunnel depending on the toll options.
Economics for a Billion tunnel
That is certainly a Gordian knot. Clearly traditional metrics can’t justify such a project.
Thought,numerous part of the project is geared toward land lift, real estate appreciation an development are eventually estimated to generate not much more than €300 millions. Toll is another source of financing:
- without toll traffic is expected to be 150,000 vehicles into the tunnel.
- with a €2 toll, traffic is reduced to 85,000 vehicles into the tunnel…other vehicles finding alternative ways (a priori the study doesn’t expect a report on public transit) …Toll revenue is estimated at €35 millions/year, not even close enough to cover the debt service.
Some other rationals are needed to justify it:
It is not the least of the strength of the Fromantin’s approach to have replaced this project in a global world context: Paris has to compete with London, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai…and like it or not, the Neuilly’s Avenue Charles de Gaulle sits on an emblematic axis defining Paris…and its image is not that good…
- Victim of its success, a “Mummification” of the historic Paris at the eastern end…
- and at the western end « this is La Défense, the office-city that nobody really likes but that has one undeniable virtue… »:
Rem Koolhass, scheme captures pretty well what is the essence of the Paris metropolis. and one of it is that La Défense, long considered to be an eyeshore having nothing to do with Paris needs to be reappropirated as part and defining feature of the city, pretty much like “The city“-obviously full part of London- is.
When come branding, one can think of the Olympic games or World’s fairs to put a city on the world stage: A whole new dimension where €1 billion to define a city image is not necessarily considered as extravagant!
Some general observations.
The level of political intrigue is very high, the level of general public involvement pretty low and secret deals are the norm. It is not that the public is disinterested by urban affairs, it is, but it is just how the things have always worked in Paris:
Urban affairs have been for long a domain for enlightened dictatorship preferring confrontation to compromise…Rare Departures of it, like has been done at the Halles, have usually translated in disasters: As theorized by Haussmann, Paris is a city of Nomads and immigrants…why ask for their opinions?…Paris belongs to France… – and the most celebrated Parisian modern architecture piece, Pompidou centre by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, and Louvres Pyramid by I.M. Pei have suffered not a single input of the Paris public- architecture without compromise….But the intricacies of the french political system and public interest in urban affairs is such, that “enlightened dictatorship” in urban matter can’t exercise without a certain level of support  which request a ‘dictator’ with an urban vision showing breath and ambition.
The Design of a Boulevard is certainly a serious matter in Paris, but in the context of the Neuilly Avenue Charles de Gaulle, we can see it has triggered a more fundamental discussion:
- The place and level of traffic in the city, but overall more importantly a question on the desired environment, a”pastoral” vision versus an assumed “urban” (Is all that green that good?).
It is also the tale of 2 methods:
- Act fast versus act right
Thought, it has failed to place Jean Sarkozy at the head of the very rich and powerful EPAD- the organization controlling la Défense development- in 2009, the Sarkozy family controls all the key level of power enabling the pursuing of their vision in an diligent manner. But, because Fromantin was able to offer a strong and powerful counter-proposition, involving a dream team of architects, gathering an incredible among of support crossing a wide political spectrum (from the right wing to the Communist party on the left… and incidentally inflicting an humiliating defeat to another Sarkozy protege in a 2011 district election ), the Sarkozy clan has been stopped in its tracks. Now, looking clearly overwhelmed by the dimension of a project they were initially ridiculing , the Sarkozy’s seem to use all of their influence to drag it down…all for the wrong reasons:
A social note
There is little questioning in France, on excessive activities centralization and almost obscene wealth concentration , eventually forcing people to live far away of their work place and putting incredible stress on the transportation system. Indeed, to relieve an “overcrowded” transportation system feeding La Défense, they intend to build more of them, defacto reinforcing a vicious circle: an area becoming increasingly attractive…but eventually at the expense of many other parts in Paris…and tremendous cost of negative “branding” like the 2005 riot, and ways to address the root cause of it, don’t seem too much on the decision maker’s radar.
It is also curious to see that the very “provincial”, if not outright primitive, Sarkozy’s approach has been able to go without questioning for so long. That is certainly due to the fact that Neuilly sits outside the Historic Paris core and as much as careful attention is given to any thing occurring into the city historic limits, as less as there is concerns on what happens other side of the Boulevard Péripherique, which acts as a barrier between the historic core and its metropolitan region, as efficiently as the citywall it has replaced. General attention has started to be given to this project once people have understood it was defining Paris.
 It makes the third busiest road of France, the 2 others one being freeway A1 and A6: Not even the Port Mann bridge in Vancouver area carry close to this amount of traffic. The Champs-Élysées itself carries ~85,000 vehicles/day.
 Jean Sarkozy will be also “recommended” as to be directing the “La Defense” administration which is the most important European Business district. This has created a public outrage, and plan has not been pursued.
 Le projet qui sème la zizanie, Constanty Hélène, l’Express, January 20, 2009
 axe majeur, third public meeting minutes, Feb 7, 2011.
 4 teams have focused on different thematics. Focusing on business development (Deloitte-Foster), people (Fidal-Gautrand), social interaction (Francis Lefebvre-Castro) and cultural development (PricewaterhouseCoopers-Ferrier)
 Les projets d’aménagement de surface, Contribution to the 2006 public debate, Ville de Neuilly
 Paris, an architectural history, Anthony Sutcliffe, Yale University Press 1993
 This area got tested with the high rise idea in the 30’s: the section between the Arc de Triomphe and la defense was supposed to be developed as the Triumphal way, and a parisian properties developer, leonard Rosenthal, privately organised a consultation for the study of the architectural treatment of Porte Maillot (to be then called ‘Place de la Victoire’), which saw lot of emphasis on High rises. The government itself will have organised late 1931 another consultation which has resulted in more conservative submissions but will have not followed suite on it. The French urbanists society will recommend la Defense, rather Porte Maillot, to experiment new architecture urban form …and here we are!
 S,M,L,XL, Rem Koolhaas, New York, Monacelli Press, 1995.
 Even Haussmann, failing to understand that the support of the Emperor was not sufficient, will fall on growing opposition of Paris
 Jean Christophe Fromanin, gaining 70% of the vote has defeated Marie-Cécile Ménard in a 2011 district election. the later was occupying the district seat of Nicolas Sarkozy for his district seat.
 Les Hauts-de-Seine jugent “inacceptable” le plan d’aménagement de M. Huchon, Béatrice Jérôme, le Monde, June 28, 2007.
 Originally, Fromantin was advocating for 2×2 lanes tunnel with no intermediate access, and a 2×3 surface lanes boulevard, when the Sarkozy family was advocating for a 2×3 lanes tunnel with intermediate access complimented by 2×2 surfaces side lanes… To date the State administration says that the traffic prediction support a 2×3 lanes tunnel, but agree against the intermediate access.
 Quel bilan socio-économique pour le tunnel sous Neuilly ?, Frédéric Heran and DARBERA Richard Darbeda, Transports, no438, 2006.
 The initiative will be renamed “axe majeur” in the years 2008.
 Enfouissement de la N 13 : Sarkozy s’impatiente, Le Parisien, July 6, 2009.
 Jean Sarkozy: “Les études de Mr Fromantin masquent un manque d’initiative”, Kévin Deniau, L’express, July 7, 2009
 Neuilly taille la route vers le Grand Paris, V. Sibylle, Liberation, April 24, 2009
 Enfouissement de la RN13 à Neuilly: la mairie de Paris approuve le projet, AFP news via Le Point, Dec 16, 2010.
 Vasconi-natale will have brought some suggestion for Pont de neuilly and Porte Maillot, marking the ends of the Avenue. that was going beyond the study scope, but was already opening the idea of a treatment of the aveneu in a “Global” context
 Le maire de Neuilly tente une percée, Bertrand Greco, le Journal du Dimanche, June 1 , 2009
 Transforming Paris: the life and labors of Baron Haussmann, David P. Jordan, Free Press, 1995.
 blog of Brigitte Kuster, Paris XVII Arrondissement’s mayor