Excerpt from Curb 5.3. “Are We There Yet?!”:
As bridges in Canadian cities near the end of their life spans, we find ourselves at an economic, social and environmental crossroads. The looming question in
our mind is: will the new or repurposed infrastructure meet the needs of our citizens, not only of today but also in
the decades to come?
. . . It’s time for decision-makers in Canadian cities to start embracing the opportunities inherent in decommissioned bridges. Although repurposing projects are economically unviable in many cases, an increasing number of cities across the United States are opting to repurpose their outdated bridge infrastructure: Tennessee’s Walnut StreetBridge, Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail and Park, Providence River Pedestrian Bridge, Tennessee’s Walnut Street just to name a few. Thanks to huge amounts of community supportand progressive design and policy decisions, these bridges have been or are in the process of being transformed into elevated parks for pedestrian and bike traffic.
Unfortunately, aging infrastructure in Canada is too often replaced to meet the misunderstood needs of citizens today rather than thinking ahead to the decades to come. Will vehicle use decline while active transportation alternatives gain favor in the coming years? If so, shouldn’t our new or repurposed infrastructure embrace this future?
Marc D’Eon is a Masters student at the Johnson-Shoyama School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan.
Paulette D’Eon is a recent graduate from the Regional and Urban Planning program at the University of Saskatchewan.
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