Georgia Street roadwork to disrupt traffic until April: City

Laurie Tritschler / January 9, 2020

City road crews are replacing a section of water main which failed at the intersection of Georgia and Howe streets in October 2019.
(Laurie Tritschler / BCIT News)

Construction on a new section of water main saw city road crews tearing up sections of Vancouver’s downtown core starting Monday. The project is part of a broader waterworks initiative aiming to replace enough old and damaged pipes to stay ahead of breaks in the line.

“We should be replacing pipes in the order of 1.2% a year,” explained Director of Water and Sewers Design, Daniele Roberge, in an interview with BCIT News Tuesday evening.

But that’s harder and more expensive than it sounds. Roberge confirmed that nearly 1/3 of city waterworks are in “poor-to-very-poor” condition, adding that Vancouver’s rate of renewal had been as low as half a per cent. The city’s draft budget for 2020 proposes an immediate bump to 0.7%, a rate Roberge said would gradually increase year-over-year along with road crews and engineering staff.

“To be at the best practice…we should be replacing pipes in the order of 1.2% a year. In the past, the City was doing a little bit less than that; at around half a percent. So, through our Council, we’ve put a proposal forward to increase that to a higher level.”

Daniele RobergeDir. Water and Sewers Design (City of Vancouver)

The roving dig along Georgia Street will span from Howe to Thurlow and is expected to last until April. Between now and then, commuters will have only three car lanes between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, according to the City of Vancouver’s website.

A section of water main failed last September near the intersection of Georgia and Howe, launching a massive torrent in the direction of the Vancouver Art Gallery that took road crews more than hour to shut off. The area saw two more failures by year’s end, said Roberge.

Laid end to end, Vancouver’s network of water pipes would span more than 1,500 kilometres. The asset is currently valued at nearly $2.4 bn.

It took first-responders and road crews more than an hour to shut off the torrent of water that erupted under Georgia Street when a water main burst between Howe and Thurlow on September 23, 2019.

(Laurie Tritschler / BCIT News)