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Braiding competing interests to unify a community through sustainable roadway design

International trade continues to grow, and improving our port areas builds our economy. Seems like an easy win—the thing is, when industrial, commercial, and residential interests all intersect over one piece of infrastructure, it can be challenging to balance all the various perspectives. By raising the level of the road, we could improve safety and efficiency for commuters and rail businesses alike—but where did that leave the community? When we got right to it, we discovered that designing with community in mind was the real heart of the Low Level Road project. The days of designing infrastructure to just do what it’s designed to do are over.

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Envision

The first transportation project— worldwide—to have secured a Platinum Envision award.

Freight Train
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long trains

The project allowed for expansion of two CN tracks that can support the assembly of 12,000 foot long trains—the longest in Western Canada.

Tree
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ferns, shrubs, and trees

Almost 11,000 ferns, shrubs, and trees were planted for landscaping.

Transcript of the video follows
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<p>The Low Level Road project was going to affect over two and a half kilometres of road, park, business, industrial, and residential areas along the north shore of Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet.</p> <p>People were concerned.</p> <p>The Port of Vancouver wanted to do right by the neighborhood, so they and their partners held multiple stakeholder engagement events.</p> <p>At one of those town hall meetings, we showcased this 3D design visualization of the project.</p> <p>We gave stakeholders a clear illustration of what they could expect. They saw how this infrastructure could improve their neighborhood, and they trusted us to do that.</p> <p>It was one of many strategies that the Port of Vancouver used to design with community in mind—and our contribution helped keep the project rolling.</p>
Before
After

Separating uses

With the new Neptune/Cargill overpass we eliminated three at-grade rail crossings, making commutes safer and faster. Plus, there were added benefits—fewer train stops meant fewer train whistles for residents and less shunting noise from starting or stopping the trains. All throughout the Low Level Road project development, design choices were made that would reduce visual impacts, noise pollution, the ecological footprint, and traffic congestion while also clearing the way for road and rail improvements.

Virtual workshop

Using a widespread team of engineers and architects, we paved the way with every facet of design on this project. A global reach to support a local challenge.

A dozen offices came together to contribute transportation infrastructure engineering, landscape architecture, water engineering, geotechnical engineering, and more.

Transcript of the video follows
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<p><b>Overset- ENVISION- City of North Vancouver, BC - 2015</b></p> <p><b>Voice over- Narrator:<br> </b>“Port Metro Vancouver’s Low Level Road is the recipient of the Envision Platinum Award for Sustainable Infrastructure.”</p> <p><b>Voiceover</b>- Bill Bertera, President and CEO, ISI – Washington, DC</p> <p>“Envision is a very powerful planning tool, because it helps us think about not just what makes a project work, what makes it economical, what makes it function,&nbsp; but it helps us think about sustainability at every point of the project.”</p> <p><b>Voiceover</b>- Kip Skabar, Assistant Design Manager - Vancouver, British Columbia</p> <p>“At Stantec we always design with community in mind and this project really demonstrates that in every aspect. We addressed several different disciplines of engineering challenges as well as enhancing safety and increasing mobility. The existing Low Level Road alignment had vehicles, bicycles and railway all within a few feet of each other so we were able to tackle that challenge by separating the grades and having rail and vehicles and bicycles at different elevations with the community above that.”</p> <p>&nbsp;“The first challenge was really about trying to demonstrate to the community the technical justification from a safety standpoint as well as the community benefit.”</p> <p><b>Voiceover</b>- Bill Bertera, President and CEO, ISI – Washington, DC</p> <p>“Without the support of the community, the allocation of the scarce resources necessary to make a project like this doesn’t materialize. If they’re not with you, there’s no project. And that’s why the Envision tool is such a help mate to public officials and public administrators because it helps them talk about complicated issues to voters, rate payers, tax payers, citizens in terms that they can understand and once they understand it helps them to make better decisions.”</p> <p>&nbsp;<b>Voiceover</b>- Lourette Swanepeol – Envision Facilitator</p> <p>“Right now for Stantec, Envision is something we hope to do just as standard practice.&nbsp; Envision is just another tool in our pockets to help our design teams and our engineers to think about what they do that goes beyond just building a project for maximum operational benefit.&nbsp; There’s all these other components about community, environment, long term thinking, that we have to start considering.&nbsp; A framework like Envision just becomes that go-to checklist that makes the job a little bit easier. ”</p> <p><b>Voiceover</b>- Kip Skabar, Assistant Design Manager - Vancouver, British Columbia</p> <p>&nbsp;“It took a lot of dedication and many hours of service from Engineers, Environmental Scientists, Landscape Architects, essentially a very powerhouse dream team that came together to make this project a huge success. ”</p> <p><b>Voiceover</b>- Lourette Swanepeol – Envision Facilitator</p> <p>&nbsp;“It’s wonderful to see that, you know, it’s a project that doesn’t do just its base engineering design; that it can have all these other layers of benefit.”</p> <p><b>Voiceover</b>- Bill Bertera, President and CEO, ISI – Washington, DC</p> <p>&nbsp;“And it’s a wonderful project for just that reason.”</p>

Envision

As the world’s first transportation project to receive an Envision Platinum award for sustainable infrastructure, there’s quite a bit under the hood. Low Level Road scored highly in quality of life, leadership, natural world, and climate and risk. This earned the project the highest level possible accreditation through the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI).

For quality of life, the team engaged stakeholders to ensure that the final design appropriately reflected community needs and priorities. Under leadership, Low Level Road scored highly after they engaged local residents and businesses, First Nations communities, port tenants and partners, CN Rail and CP Rail, the City of North Vancouver, and TransLink.

Pacific Yew trees and bald eagle habitats were major concerns when it came to the natural world consideration. After consulting with local eagle experts, the construction scheduling was changed (to accommodate bird nesting season) and two artificial nesting sites were installed.

Recently, the City of North Vancouver published a Climate Change Adaptation Plan. By aligning the development with that plan, the design is prepared for the expected climate change risks and impacts. Plus, with the more efficient roadways, emissions were reduced and commutes were improved.

The Neptune/Cargill Bridge can withstand a 975-year earthquake and was designed with integral abutment and pier connections—jointless bridge design. Plus, the road was elevated above the 200-year sea level rise.

The Good Word

“Port Metro Vancouver’s realigned Low Level Road project improves community mobility, enhances the availability of active transportation options, improves community safety, and mitigates threats from unstable slopes and seismic risks.”

William Bertera, ISI President and Chief Executive Officer

“The Low Level Road project has increased trade opportunities for Canada while providing safety, traffic flow, and recreational benefits to the local community.”

Robin Silvester, Port Metro Vancouver President and Chief Executive Officer

“Stantec is very proud of our work on the Low Level Road, and we are thrilled it is the first Envision-verified transportation project in North America.”

Neal Cormack, Managing Principal, Transportation

“We are really pleased to see that these finishing touches to the Spirit Trail and the Public Art will be up soon for our enjoyment. It is really great that these extra touches are part of the plan to complement the work that is being done. It all helps to enrich our lives.”

Trail BC

“I’ve had a great deal of interaction with the City, the Port, and the engineers regarding this project, and I must say that everyone deserves full marks for their professionalism and dedication to the project.”

Local North Shore Resident

“I drove it this morning and believe it will be a road that the North Shore will love!”

Member, North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce

“I am 200% in favor of this project, this road!”

Local North Shore Resident

We’re better together

Our work begins at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. With a long-term commitment to the people and places we serve, we have the unique ability to connect to projects on a personal level and advance the quality of life in communities across the globe.

Garry Romanetz
Senior Principal, Water
Garry Romanetz
Senior Principal, Water

Sustainable infrastructure design and construction principals were incorporated to make this a showcase project.… Read More

Lourette Swanepoel
Senior Associate
Lourette Swanepoel
Senior Associate

Public agencies are increasingly compelled to implement—and celebrate—sustainable, resilient infrastructure. With Envision® Platinum, this project did just that!… Read More

Kip Skabar
Senior Associate, Transportation
Kip Skabar
Senior Associate, Transportation

From the intersections to the bridges to the local artwork—this project truly provided a context-sensitive solution for the community.… Read More

Henrik Kristiansen
Principal
Henrik Kristiansen
Principal

This was a perfect project: considerable support from the community and stakeholders, innovative design, and complex technical challenges.… Read More

Helen Zhang
Transportation Engineer
Helen Zhang
Transportation Engineer

Using Low Level Road to address traffic congestion, improve port access, and reduce train noise in the area has been a rewarding experience.… Read More

Emily Dunlop
Associate
Emily Dunlop
Associate

This was truly a collaborative effort from start to finish, which has resulted in a safer and more efficient multi-modal transportation corridor.… Read More

David Kong
Associate
David Kong
Associate

Our design and planning kept the train moving! With no interruption to existing services throughout the duration of the project.… Read More

Thys Fourie
Senior Associate
Thys Fourie
Senior Associate

It always motivates me to be part of a project that results in a safer and greener environment for our families.… Read More

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