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Broadway tunnel soil testing picks up the pace

November 15, 2015


Friday rush hour (November 13) saw a Foundex drilling crew tying up two lanes of the 600 block of West Broadway Avenue, as part of the on-going soil testing that is apparently meant to determine the suitability of driving a SkyTrain tunnel underneath the busy roadway.

This was the third soil testing crew in a week that I’d seen obstructing rush hour traffic in this area of West Broadway Avenue.

Maybe they’re trying to wrap things up before Christmas.

More scenes of the Broadway drill teams at work

An orange suitcase-sized GPR unit mounted in a wheeled carriage.

A carriage-mounted, suitcase-sized, ground penetrating radar (GPR) unit.

A week earlier, on November 6, the middle lanes of the 700 block were flagged off and I watched as workers from one company, called Western Locates, assayed the ground underneath the asphalt with a lawn mower-like GSSI UtilityScan DF ground penetrating radar unit.

X marks the spot.

X marks the spot.

Then, while flaggers and workers from a concrete coring company looked on, a spot of pavement in an eastbound lane opposite the Fairmont Medical Centre was marked with fluorescent orange spray paint.

At the same time, another crew appeared to be doing much the same thing two blocks west, in the 900 block, at the intersection of West Broadway Avenue and Oak Street.

The boring truth about the Broadway tunnel

So far, I’ve only seen or read of a total of eight soil tests along a relatively short part of West Broadway Avenue. But the Broadway SkyTrain tunnel is planned to begin way over in East Vancouver at the intersection of Clark Drive and East Broadway Avenue. So, for all I know, there may have already been dozens of soil tests along Broadway Avenue east of Main Street .

Five of the soil tests that I know of have taken place in centre lanes of West Broadway Avenue, while three have occurred just off either the north or south side of the avenue on side streets.

The tests are not marching forward in one direction but rather jumping back and forth, with no apparent rhyme or reason..

For example, November 6 actually marked the second time that soil testing blocked off part of the 700 block, as a Foundex crew was seen on September 21 drilling in that block.

Was the Canada Line SkyTrain tunnel along Cambie Street preceded by the same sort of soil testing? I don’t recall that it was. Perhaps you don’t need soil testing with the cut-and-cover method employed so disruptively along Cambie. Perhaps it’s only required when you plan to bore a tunnel — a tunnel that there’s no funding to build.

On July 2, Elections B.C. announced the results of the Transportation and Transit plebiscite. More than 759,696 Metro Vancouverites voted over 61 percent against granting TransLink the increased sales tax tax revenue that the transit authority swore up down and sideways was needed to move forward on its transportation plan for the region.

Many pundits, including the Vancouver Sun described the successful no vote as a rejection of TransLink’s plans in general, including one of its biggest and most expensive — the $3-billion SkyTrain extension under Broadway to serve the Point Grey campus of the University of British Columbia.

Fact is, I doubt that too many voters in Metro Vancouver actually believed that the Broadway tunnel would live or die on the outcome of the transit plebiscite.

Now, some four months after TransLink lost that plebiscite, no one seems a bit surprised to see that there are work crews poking holes all over West Broadway Avenue for just such a tunnel — you can’t really miss the work when crews insist on starting during weekday rush hour.

Rather than holding the plebiscite, perhaps we should’ve have just given TransLink the $5.8 million that it reportedly cost and been done with it. Click the images to enlarge them.

From → Development, Fairview

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