A plan by Vancouver city engineers to upgrade the Granville Bridge for heavy trucks and highway buses, could result in more hazardous air pollution and congestion along the Granville Corridor, says COPE Cllr David Cadman.
"Turning the Granville Bridge into a truck route will channel thousands of diesel-belching trucks and highway buses through residential neighbourhoods along Hemlock, Seymour, Howe and Fir streets and expose residents to more diesel exhaust," said Cadman. "We know people living along the Knight truck route are exposed to high levels of diesel particulate that has been recognized as causing cancer.
"Now we are being presented with a plan to turn residential streets along Granville into deisel truck routes without any analysis of the impact on air quality, noise congestion or the disruption caused by routing big transport trucks and highway buses onto the Granville Bridge."
In a report going to City Council next Tuesday, city engineers want $330,000 to begin studying how to strengthen the Granville Bridge’s Hemlock, Fir, Howe and Seymour on-ramps for heavy trucks and buses. The report notes that "completion of the bridge strengthening project will address the existing deficiencies and allow the City to add another truck and bus crossing across False Creek."
Engineers want to fast track the work in "a timely manner (that) will provide greater flexibility in
transportation planning related to the Olympics." Olympic security concerns are expected to shut down existing truck access to Main and Cambie streets, forcing trucks onto Granville instead.
"Before any decisions are made on turning Granville into a truck route, we need to do health studies and determine the impact of truck pollution, noise and congestion on local residents and businesses" said Cadman. "In the last decade this area has changed from light industrial and warehouses to dense residential, retail and entertainment uses such as Granville Island.
"We have to now ask if current uses are compatible with an industrial truck route? And we have to ask what is to stop trucks from continuing up and down the length of Granville thus creating the ‘Granville Highway’ that caused so much concern to small business in the 1990s."
The Canadian Cancer Society notes that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concludes "diesel engine exhaust is a probable cancer-causing substance."
Diesel exhaust contains harmful substances, including particulate matter (fine particles), sulphur oxides, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Small particles, less than 2.5 micrometers in size, are thought to be the most harmful to human health because they can penetrate lung tissue more deeply.
A 2003 city study of air quality along the Knight-Clark truck corridor, found that "pedestrians are directly exposed to noise and air emissions."