|After nearly a year's closure, part of the rebuilt west sidewalk of the Burrard Street Bridge is open. The light posts and light fixtures reflect the bridge's Art Deco style.|
|The wrought iron fencing, aimed at deterring suicides, is new and controversial.|
|Now you see the world through bars.|
|This photo from an earlier stage of construction shows what the view used to be like.|
|The fencing was just going up when I took this picture.|
I have a proprietary feeling toward the Burrard Street Bridge, probably because I crossed it every workday for 15 years. I walked it in darkness and light, in blazing sun and in fog, rain and snow. I walked it crowded and empty -- the emptiest being the day of the 2010 Olympic hockey final. I was on the bridge when the Canadians won; the message was clear from the shouts and screams of joy erupting from the residential towers.
But the rebar was showing through the railings of the 1930s-era bridge and a $35-million reconstruction project began a year ago. On Wednesday, for the first time since then, I set foot on the bridge's newly rebuilt west sidewalk and experienced what the designers had wrought.
On the plus side, they obviously tried. Stylish new light posts and light fixtures reflect the Art Deco style of the bridge. But the high iron bars of the new suicide fencing are a downer. They block the once-unobstructed views of waters, mountains and West End beaches that were always a high point of my walks to work.
The $3.5-million fence, meant to deter the one person a year who attempts suicide by jumping off the bridge, was controversial. Health officials applauded it, but heritage advocates complained. At least one city councillor questioned the fence's effectiveness and criticized the lack of public consultation.
I welcome the new lights and look forward to seeing them lit up at night. But as for the suicide fencing, I have to say that anyone deterred by it on the Burrard Bridge need only walk a few blocks to Granville or a few more to Cambie. The bridges on those streets have no suicide barriers at all.
|Since last year, pedestrians and cyclists have been walking down the middle of the bridge while the west sidewalk was being rebuilt behind the blue construction netting.|
|Details of the bridge's central tower. Notice the boat jutting out.|