The Bowen Place underpass has been a long time in coming — and is very welcomed. It is a job well done.
I say that it was a long time in coming as for far too many years now people, as they travelled to and from Kings Avenue to the lakeside, have had to cross over two busy lanes of traffic. While there were speed limits on this traffic, most of the time it came from under the bridge at a speed inappropriate for the situation. It was a case of people and bikes having to watch out for the traffic that demanded right of way – or else!
So what did we get for $10 million dollars? As with all these infrastructure projects, most of the cash would have been expended on the engineering and associated road and bridge constructions. As per the brief, the final design was to fit in with all the many aesthetic and heritage aspects of this corner of the Parliamentary Triangle.
And of course, it had to make it safe of pedestrians and cyclists to make their way to and from the bridge. On this count, the new underpass is a total success.
Aesthetically it had to be a good piece of landscape design while not introducing anything too radical. It has achieved this objective.
It is very pleasant experience to walk though the underpass. The connections to the bridge end as well as to the lakeside paths works beautifully – as if they have been there for ages.
Having said that, you still have to watch out for the occasional ill-mannered cyclists who dreams that they are part of le Tour de France. They swoosh passed without any notice and they rarely allow for a metre between you and their speeeding metal machines.
My curiosity was taken by the piece of artwork set out in the great expanse of grass on the upper side of the underpass. It seems that they may have run out of ideas and planted a large expanse of grass that fulfills no real function except to demand regular maintenance. Unfortunately the metal artwork, which is a good piece of sculpture, looks lost out there on its own on the far side of the large grassed mound.
The new Bowen Place underpass is a good engineering and design solution to a problem that was well overdue to be addressed. It works wonderfully and looks great – and will be even better when the new plants have matured.
It was definitely worth doing. But was it worth $10 million dollars? Probably.
Have you had a look for yourself yet?