The man who helped daylight Seoul’s sacred stream by removing an expressway to speak in Vancouver

As Vancouver considers the future of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts, a remnant of a long-ago rejected freeway system, it’s useful to recall the experience of other cities that have undertaken much larger changes with spectacular results.

Cheonggyecheong before removal of the freeway . . . . . . and a section today, after freeway removal.

In 2005, Seoul, Korea, celebrated the daylighting of Cheonggyecheon, a sacred stream that ran through the heart of the city. This waterway  was covered by roads and then an elevated freeway in the years after the Second World War, but remained flowing beneath the street. The freeway was finished in 1976, but just 27 years later the city administration undertook the costly business of removing it.

The result: a dramatic transformation of the city’s downtown core with minimal traffic disruption. On the positive side: an improved business district, better air quality and many other benefits.

In April, Dr. Kee Yeon Hwang, president of the Korean Transportation Institute, will visit Vancouver as a guest of Simon Fraser’s Urban Sustainable Development department. His main public address March 29 is sponsored, interestingly enough, by the Real Estate Foundation and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. It will be a glimpse of the transformation that could be Vancouver’s if the will is found to move ahead.

. . . and a section of the area today, after freeway removal.