Wesbrook Mall undergoes major reconstruction to accommodate increased traffic

Wesbrook Mall is undergoing a major redesign this summer to accommodate new bus, cyclist and pedestrian lanes.

As part of the first phase, reconstruction is taking place from the south side of University Boulevard to the north side of Student Union Boulevard, which has been recently closed to vehicle traffic.

Krista Falkner, a UBC transportation engineer who has been working closely on the project, said one of the goals was to increase the safety and comfort for cyclists and pedestrians.

“So, for the overall design, we are separating everything so that’s the simplest way to put it,” she said. “General traffic is in a lane, bus traffic is in a lane, cyclists have their own separated ... place to bike and pedestrians have a wider and quieter place ... to walk and enjoy the space.”

Wesbrook Mall is expected to open up again in mid-June — allowing traffic to resume — though construction will still be taking place.

“We’re trying to get as much [of] the bigger work done now and through the summer, to reduce those congestion or construction impacts into the fall term,” said Falkner.

The intersection at University Boulevard and Wesbrook Mall is also undergoing major redesign.

The “feature crosswalk” — which was designed in collaboration with the Musqueam Indian Band — includes their colours and an emblem to recognize their traditional, ancestral and unceded territory. Other changes will allow for an extended space for photography with the UBC monument, and a “clearer identification of where pedestrians are walking and where vehicles can expect to see pedestrians,” according to Falkner.

Making room for the B-line

TransLink is also in the planning stages of bringing in a new 41 B-line service to connect Joyce-Collingwood station and UBC, which would run every three to six minutes during peak commute times.

According to Falkner, the separated bus lanes are part of a long-term vision for not just the new 41 B-line, but all buses.

“Our project is managing all the different phasing and then we work with TransLink to ensure that all the different bus routes are being met — safely and functionally. And then we rely on them to communicate to them to the transit passengers of where to catch the vehicles,” said Falkner.

The new 41-B line is expected to open either later this year, or early next year.

UBC Associate VP Campus and Community Planning Michael White summarized that there were three big messages from active engagement with the campus community and local residents.

“So if you see the design, you can see it’s really dedicated to separation for cyclists, pedestrian safety and also efficiency of bus movement — and the design reflects that,” he said.