Expect commuter chaos with closure

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

City, developer need weeks to do repairs

John Bermingham

It will be weeks before the cave-in at Bute and West Pender is repaired, and until then traffic will have to be rerouted, city officials say. The city is now in the process of investigating how a nearby excavation may have created the problem. Photograph by : Gerry Kahrmann, The Province

The city has issued a stop-work order to a company excavating a site for a highrise as it tries to get to the bottom of a cave-in that sucked in part of Pender Street.

“[We’ve] issued a stop-work order for further work on the excavation,” city engineer Tom Timm said yesterday as engineers assessed the damage.

“We have required that they get their geo-technical consultant to give us a plan for putting the road back together, and expediting that work as quickly as possible.

“We’ve also hired our own consultant, an expert soils engineer, to evaluate that plan, and to advise us on it, as well as advising us with regard to causes of the failure,” Timm said.

Timm said drivers can expect traffic problems on West Pender Street for weeks.

Drivers coming into Vancouver off the Lions Gate Bridge in the morning rush hour won’t be able to turn left onto West Pender if they’re in the counter-flow lane.

“It will be closed at Jervis,” said Timm. “And that doesn’t leave you a lot of options.”

Drivers should use West Georgia instead of Pender to get downtown.

“I think it’s advisable for people to stay on West Georgia, to get past this area,” he said.

The city is putting up electronic message-board signs to remind drivers of the closure.

West Pender will remain closed between Bute and Jervis until well into the New Year.

“Quite frankly, I think it’s a matter of weeks rather than days,” said Timm, who added westbound traffic may have access earlier than that.

At least 20 metres of Pender Street at Bute collapsed into the excavation site on Boxing Day.

No one was injured, but power was cut to hundreds of highrise residents for the day after the collapse broke a hydro duct.

The cave-in also burst an eight-inch water main, and the flooding was compounded by pools of rainwater from days of heavy rain.

Timm figures the collapse may have been a failure to anchor the walls of the hole as it was being dug.

“At this point, it would appear to me it was simply a failure of the shoring system,” he said.

When digging holes adjacent to the street, he said, the walls are covered with steel mesh, sprayed with concrete and then anchor rods are inserted under the road.

“The anchors gave way, or something failed in that system, because you do need something to hold the face of the excavation vertical.”

He said the city is working with the developer of the residential tower, Pinnacle International (Ritz) Plaza Inc., to get the street repaired as soon as possible.

Pinnacle International did not return a call yesterday.

– The 19 bus between Metrotown and Stanley Park has been rerouted and now terminates downtown at Pender and Seymour. Shuttle buses run every 15 minutes. For more information call TransLink at 604-953-3333

© The Vancouver Province 2005

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