TransLink sends SkyTrain Burrard Station upgrade back to drawing board due to cost

The previously planned two-year temporary closure of SkyTrain Burrard Station beginning early in 2022 will not be going ahead.

In a bulletin today, TransLink says the upgrades as planned are no longer proceeding due to higher than anticipated construction bid cost estimates during the procurement process for a general contractor.

The public transit authority states there have been “ongoing pressures in the construction industry caused by global supply chain issues and higher construction costs.”

With the plans cancelled, TransLink will now rescope the upgrade project, and the station will remain open to passengers while a new plan is created. The revised design and budget have yet to be finalized.

In July 2021, TransLink revealed the Burrard Station overhaul design and announced the strategy of a temporary two-year station closure starting early in 2022 as a measure to reduce costs, which is timed with the pandemic’s ongoing temporary impacts of reduced ridership.

Existing condition of Burrard Station:

Aerial of the existing condition of SkyTrain Burrard Station. (Google Earth)

Previously planned upgrade of Burrard Station:

skytrain burrard station upgrade

Artistic rendering of the expansion and renovation of SkyTrain Burrard Station. (TransLink)

Perhaps more importantly was the cost reduction of temporarily closing the station instead of keeping it open for passenger use during construction.

The entire project, as previously planned, was estimated to cost $72 million. If the station were to remain open during construction, it was previously estimated construction costs would go up by $35 million to $107 million.

The design included an additional three escalators between the ticketing concourse and the underground mezzanine level, addressing the key capacity, accessibility, and circulation issue of the station — increasing the number of escalators between both levels from three to six.

skytrain burrard station upgrade

Artistic rendering of the expansion and renovation of SkyTrain Burrard Station. (TransLink)

skytrain burrard station upgrade

Artistic rendering of the expansion and renovation of SkyTrain Burrard Station. (TransLink)

skytrain burrard station upgrade

Artistic rendering of the expansion and renovation of SkyTrain Burrard Station. (TransLink)

skytrain burrard station upgrade

Artistic rendering of the expansion and renovation of SkyTrain Burrard Station. (TransLink)

The street entrance would also be relocated from the Melville Street side of the block to the Dunsmuir Street side, with a staircase, two escalators, and two elevators from street level.

In the process of repositioning the street entrance, a new and expanded plaza would be created on the southeast corner of the station block.

In 2019, Burrard Station was TransLink’s fourth busiest SkyTrain station, with over 7.6 million annual boardings and an average of over 25,000 weekend boardings.

Previous TransLink reports stated a capacity upgrade is necessary to meet the Expo Line’s eventual train-carrying system capacity of 25,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) — up from over 15,000 (pphpd) currently — and from the use of longer trains that provide greater peak surges in circulation volumes through the station.

skytrain burrard station upgrade

Artistic rendering of the expansion and renovation of SkyTrain Burrard Station. (TransLink)

skytrain burrard station

Artistic rendering of the new SkyTrain Burrard Station street entrance from Burrard Street on the north side. (TransLink)

Over the years, the public transit authority explored several concepts for increasing Burrard Station’s capacity, specifically a new secondary street entrance from the southeast corner of the intersection of Burrard Street and Dunsmuir Street, right outside of the Park Place office tower.

TransLink considered two escalators — one up, one down — for the secondary street entrance option, but this was dismissed as an option over forecasts that it would reach capacity within years of opening. An elevator-only secondary entrance with a bank of six elevators and a new underground pathway was then explored, but in late 2018 this option was dismissed as its cost was higher than the available budget of approximately $75 million.

Although TransLink has sent the Burrard Station upgrade back to the drawing board, it announced earlier this month construction would begin on a $33-million capacity and accessibility upgrade of SkyTrain Brentwood Town Center Station in April 2022.

The public transit authority also recently acquired the Boucher Center building adjacent to SkyTrain Columbia Station for a future overhaul of the interchange station hub.

burrard station east entrance concept

2016 escalator-only concept for the additional ‘East Entry’ into Burrard Station. (TransLink, retrieved by Freedom of Information)

Burrard Station SkyTrain

Previous concept of the new secondary entrance into Burrard Station with only elevators. (VIA Architecture/TransLink)

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