#WhatsTheLink: The Knight Street Bridge, 40 years of transportation and community

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#WhatsTheLink is a series about all that TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s transportation authority, is responsible for in the region. Join the conversation on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Every day, people take for granted the routines in their lives. You brush your teeth, leave your house and, for some of us, drive to where you need to be with little contemplation. Every day, people drive trucks, drive cars or take buses over bridges in Metro Vancouver to work, school, medical appointments and elsewhere. And every day, 200,000 of those crossings happen over the Fraser River on TransLink bridges!

One of those TransLink bridges is the Knight Street Bridge. It was built to replace the Fraser Street Bridge that was constructed in 1905 and considered obsolete. After five years of construction, the Knight Street Bridge opened on January 15, 1974. Today the bridge is heavily used, providing a vital link between Richmond and Vancouver.

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Image: Angus McIntyre, December 31, 1972Heritage Vancouver Society

The Knight Street Bridge is, of course, connected to Knight Street at either end, which is part of TransLink’s Major Road Network. It’s also part of TransLink’s larger transportation system that includes public transit, cycling and pedestrian options, not to mention four other bridges: the Golden Ears, Pattullo, Westham Island and Canada Line Pedestrian-Bicycle bridges.

If you stand and watch the traffic on Knight Street on either ends crossing onto the bridge, you’ll count nearly as many trucks as you do cars and other types of automobiles and buses: “It’s the main artery from the Downtown Vancouver terminals to industry in Richmond North and South as well as the Tilbury Industrial area out to Delta Port,” David Payne tells me.

David is the President of Harbour Link Container Services INC. His company delivers containers by truck from the ports in Vancouver, Seattle and Tacoma to destinations in British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon Territory as well as Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. For David, Knight Street, including the Knight Street Bridge, is an important part of his business, “Highways 91 and 99 feed into Knight Street and the bridge. You can’t have trucks going down Oak or Granville Street. If Knight Street and the bridge weren’t there, I think Boundary Road would be jammed full of trucks.”

David

Knight Street has, however, become more than transit corridor. Since the bridge was built over 40 years ago, the community around Knight Street has grown and changed. If you head north on Knight Street on the Vancouver side, you run into the corner of Knight Street and Kingsway. In contrast to the small pockets of commercial businesses surrounded by older housing stock that characterizes this part of Knight Street, this corner of Knight Street has been growing with businesses and new housing developments.

Katie So works at the recently opened Our Town Café on the southwest corner of the intersection. She grew up on Knight Street and has lived in the area her whole life. “The bridge links us to Richmond and the airport,” says Katie.

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“The Knight Street neighbourhood has changed over the years. It’s becoming more of a family community,” she adds. “With these coffee shops opening up, it shows that people are more out and about in the community, whereas before the street was simply just a traffic hub.”

Across the street, Marjorie Mutt says that the Knight Street Bridge is a regular fixture in her life. Having done a little bit of everything over the years at House of Dosas restaurant, Marjorie tells me that she uses the Knight Street Bridge to and from Richmond to buy vegetables like onions, green chilies and tomatoes for the restaurant.

Marjorie

The Knight Street Bridge contributes to hundreds of thousands of crossing made over the Fraser River every day. As part of TransLink’s interconnected transportation system, the Knight Street Bridge has and will continue to be a permanent part of the people of Metro Vancouver’s daily routines—routines like shipping and receiving goods brought by trucks, eating a good meal or drinking a delicious cup of coffee.

 

Robert Willis is a Communications Advisor for TransLink. He looks after digital communications including social media for the organization. He’s also the editor of the Buzzer blog and newsletter.

 Images: Robert Willis

 

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