A controversial project that would see protected bike lanes installed in downtown Vancouver along Columbia Street has been postponed by a year.
The Westside Bike Mobility Project was the source of fierce and sustained debate, led by residents along the roadway who worried how losing street parking in front of their homes and businesses would impact their lives.
But the cause of the delay stems from a much simpler problem: money.
The city of Vancouver’s transportation budget has been stripped to the studs, a combination of coronavirus fallout and last year’s voter-approved restriction on car tab fees, Initiative 976. In the original 2020 budget, Vancouver had planned to spend $37 million on transportation projects. Although the initiative is currently awaiting review by the state Supreme Court, city leaders now expect to spend just $23.2 million on transportation this year. That is a reduction of about 37 percent.
“The passage of I-976 this past fall resulted in approximately a $5.9 million reduction in revenue,” Ryan Lopossa, Vancouver’s streets and transportation manager, told the city council on Monday. “With the anticipated shortfalls stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re projecting as much as a $7.9 million revenue reduction.”
To help make up the difference, the city’s 2020 paving resurfacing project has been postponed until 2021, including the scheduled repaving of Columbia Street that would have coincided with the striping work and barrier installation to create the new bike lanes.