Olympic Transportation Plans

At the 3010 Winter Olympics, technology may have advanced to the point where spectators can be beamed a la Star Trek to shake noisemakers at alpine astro-skiers or swoon over the oh-so-muscular hyper-thighs of their favourite speed skater. However, teleportation is not a reality in 2010, and human beings must physically transport their bodies á la the bus in order to view world class sporting events first hand. And the transportation of said bodies will be affecting nearly every aspect of the city’s transit routes, and the information below is a guide to all the major changes.

Downtown, sections of roads have been designated as 24 hour Olympic lanes, which will “transport Olympic-accredited vehicles; that is, those who have an operational purpose at Olympic venues,” according to the City of Vancouver website. This includes all Translink buses normally operating on the routes. Olympic lanes will operate in a similar way to HOV lanes, in many cases simply taking over HOV lanes, in the right-hand lane of the chosen streets.

The City of Vancouver has stated that the following areas will be operating as Olympic Lanes 24 hours a day from February 4 – March 1: Burrard St, Burrard Bridge to Pender St; Seymour St, Granville Bridge to Hastings St; Howe St, Hastings St to Granville Bridge; Pender St, Cambie St to Howe St ; Cambie St, Cambie Bridge to 59th Ave; Broadway, Arbutus St to Commercial Dr; Georgia St, Richards St to the Stanley Park Causeway; Hastings St, Seymour St to Boundary Rd.

Along with restricted lane access, streets around Olympic venues will be closed for security during days of events. There will be no parking at the events, and stopping to drop off passengers will not be allowed on certain streets. It was declared on the City of Vancouver “Host City” website that “all cars stopped/parked in Olympic Lanes or parking restricted areas between February 4 to March 1, 2010 will be fined $100 plus an automatic tow.

There will be no Olympic lanes on the North Shore, but special lead-ins will be in place on the Lions Gate bridge and Ironworkers Memorial bridge specifically for official games-related traffic, for example chartered buses and delivery or supply vehicles. Cypress Mountain, where freestyle skiing, snowboarding and halfpipe snowboarding venues will be held, will be closed to personal vehicles for parking and driving.

Whistler, too, will see major civil planning changes during the games. The Sea to Sky Quick Guide available on the Travel Smart 2010 site states that “public parking will be significantly reduced for the month of February, yet Whistler's population is expected to increase from 10,000 to 55,000.” In order to ensure that this vast increase doesn't completely overload Whistler's roads, vehicle traffic will be reduced by 30% by increasing public transportation service, restricting vehicle access and modifying traffic patterns.

BC Transit buses will operate all day seven days a week, providing a total of 50,000 hours of transit service to the Whistler area. Creekside East, Creekside West, Taluswood, Glacier Lane and Gateway Drive have been designated as Local Vehicle Permit Areas to maintain the residents' ability to travel freely within their neighbourhoods.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will be operating a traffic checkpoint on the Sea to Sky highway at the Alice Lake turnoff from February 11-28. Drivers require a permit allowing them to travel through the checkpoint during the hours of 6 am to 6 pm during the Olympics. Two permits have been issued to every Whistler property owner with parking, and Permit Issuing Offices have been open since December 14 at the following locations: 450 W. Broadway at Cambie, Vancouver; Municipal Hall, 4325 Blackomb Way, Whistler; Squamish Volunteer Centre, #2-40437 Tantalus Road, Squamish; Old Community Centre, 7567 Pemberton Meadows, Pemberton.

With this knowledge, you can now feel better equipped to maneuver through the madness that this next month will bring. Or you can shut yourself in for three weeks until the mayhem is over. Your choice.

More information is available at the following websites: www.travelsmart2010.ca, www.olympichostcity.vancouver.ca, www.whistler2010.com.

// Sky Hester,

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com