In Vancouver, Low Level Road was a highway running along the North Vancouver waterfront, parallel with the rail tracks and close to residential units with views of the water and the growing port activities. Traffic congestion, security, and complaints about noise were all sources of rising tension between the port, industry and the local community.
The Low Level Road project was designed to address these issues, while optimising rail and port links and the economic impact generated by the port terminals concerned. Almost 2.6 km of the highway were realigned and raised, level crossings were removed, and separate access roads to the Neptune and Cargill terminals were created.
A wide-ranging consultation was organised in the spring of 2012, including the local community, the First Nations, and private stakeholders. Based on the consultation’s findings, the Port was able to make changes to the project designed with Stantec Consulting, Ltd. adjusting the solutions planned for the resulting noise and visual impact, integration into the landscape, and improvements to the living environment for the local community.
An existing footpath, the Spirit Trail, was extended by two kilometres (the new section opening in spring 2015), while 5 km of cycle paths and several pedestrian walkways were also added. Some 1200 m of transparent noise barriers were installed. It was also integrated through the use of street art, and in particular a 130 m mural commissioned from an artist from the Coast Salish First Nations community.
The City of North Vancouver approved the updated project in June 2012. Work began in March 2013, and was completed at the end of the following year.
The total cost of the operation was CAD 101.6M, of which 49.4M came from the Federal Government, and 31.6M from Port Metro Vancouver.
The project also gave rise to a range of environmental offsetting measures, with the removal of invasive species, the creation of nesting sites for eagles, and the use of endogenous species for landscaping.
In 2015, the project received an Envision Platinium Award from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.