Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Burrard Bridge Construction

Something needs to be done about Burrard Bridge and I don’t mean state action. I mean, there is already something being done about Burrard Bridge. A 100-year-old bridge in Vancouver, it, like any capital good, needs refurbishing from time to time.

But putting the state in charge of hiring a construction company is the stupidest thing imaginable.

A normally four-lane highway is now down to one on either side, the sidewalk and bike lanes have been cut off from their respective viewing points and delegated to the side of the road, bordered by cement blocks that were simply moved over (no, that’s not a construction site fixture, those colourless cement blocks separating bikes from automobiles is a regular feature).

Simply, Burrard Bridge is in shambles. And we’re told it will be this way until the Fall of 2017.

No private owner would ever put up with this. This would be like if someone came to redo my basement but shut off my hot water for long periods of the day — every day — and took over 16 months doing it.

This only comes because the bridge is owned by the city government and therefore nobody.

Here's a solution: create a Burrard Bridge company and put taxpayers in charge of it by giving them shares.

The longer you’ve lived in the region, the closer you are to the bridge, the more taxes you’ve paid and are obligated to pay in the future — all of that relates to how many shares you’ll own.

Only then, with a financial cost on the line, will taxpayers (as shareholders) witness a speedy and convenient repair of Burrard Bridge.

And not only that, but odds are under private ownership, the dull greyish looking bridge will come to resemble something aesthetically pleasing. Maybe, given the close proximity to the gay district, the bridge will get painted rainbow colours.

Maybe the bridge owners will like the way it looks now, just preferring that motorists, pedestrians, and bikers aren’t attracted to a competing bridges thanks to a massive and time-delaying repair by construction workers, where 80 percent of them wait around and hold signs while 20 percent rip up the road and sidewalk, replacing it with the exact same thing.

Until that happens, if it ever happens, expect long delays, where halfway through the wait, cars decide to turn into oncoming traffic and take the bridge back down. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve witnessed that.

And you see that stupid trailer that holds up the blinking light telling you to go one direction or the other? I mean, what is that? What use could that have other than perpetual road construction enabled by a runaway bureaucracy?

Why not install LCDs on the road as a permanent fixture? A low-level light that helps direct drivers when it's dark. That'd be much better than these Soviet-style construction pieces held down by sandbags.

Wanna cut down on light pollution? Follow my advice.

And finally, what about the overflow of orange? At the bottom of the bridge, where Burrard meets with Pacific Avenue, there is a sea of orange construction pylons. It’s more confusing than it is helpful. But more importantly, it’s butt-ass ugly.

This wouldn’t be such a big problem if it were only for a bit. But for the next year and a half? And what about tourists? Are they to see these ugly ass orange barriers as a regular feature in Vancouver?

Perhaps it would be better if each pylon was a different colour. Orange for cars, blue for bikes, pink for pedestrians? That'd certainly cut down on a number of car-horns I hear every day.

Who knows what the free market may come up with. 

Private owners may prefer to scrap the whole construction site altogether. Instead, opting for a temporary replacement bridge that’s easy to build up and tear down, like a real-life K'Nex project. Meanwhile, construction crews would spend no more than a month on repairing the main bridge.

If there were financial costs regulating the actions of the city council, Burrard Bridge would be repaired more efficiently and with little delay. Even more so, if the bridge was privately owned and competing with its neighbouring bridges.

Someday the city’s taxpayers will come to their senses. BC might be the “left” coast, but it’s also the province that rejected the HST and openly flaunted cannabis prohibition before it was cool.

There’s hope yet.


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