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Brace for traffic chaos during 2010 Games

The 2010 Winter Olympics begin Feb. 12, but road closures start Nov. 1.

That’s when 1st Avenue from Quebec Street stretching to the Cambie Bridge and the seawall outside the Vancouver Olympic Village go behind fences, according to the updated VANOC transport plan published Wednesday.

The rest of the phased road and closures run Jan. 1 to March 1 with bans on parking and stopping in curb lanes on the city’s busiest streets from Feb. 4 to March 1. Those lanes will be restricted to security vehicles, buses and cars with VANOC-issued vehicle access and parking permits.

Major street closures include Abbott from Expo to Keefer (Jan. 4), Quebec Street (Jan. 15), Renfrew from Hastings to McGill (Jan. 24), Canada Place and Waterfront Road (Jan. 27), Expo and Pacific (Jan. 29) and Midlothian near the Vancouver Olympic Centre (Feb. 1). Both viaducts close Feb. 5, a week before opening day.

During the Games, Granville from Smithe to Cordova, Robson from Bute to Beatty, Hamilton and Mainland between David Lam Park and Georgia and Beatty between Smithe and Dunsmuir will become pedestrian-only corridors.

The east end of False Creek will be fenced. The northern half includes B.C. Place Stadium and GM Place. The southern half includes the Vancouver Olympic Village.

Trucks will be steered to temporary routes Feb. 1 to March 21 on Hastings from Main to Burrard, Nelson from Burrard to Cambie and Smithe from Cambie to Burrard. Staff want to make the Granville Bridge the fourth for trucks and motorcoaches. Deliveries are allowed 24 hours a day, but planners want truckers to go midnight to 6 a.m.

No permits are needed in downtown Vancouver, but Whistler residents, landowners, hotel guests, workers, commercial vehicles and through traffic will need passes to travel through an Alice Lake checkpoint on the Sea-to-Sky highway northbound from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 11-28.

Residents of four Whistler neighbourhoods near venues will also need passes to access their homes Feb. 4-28. Two passes are allowed per property.

From Feb. 4 to March 1, two Sea-to-Sky lanes will be northbound and one southbound in the morning. In the afternoon, it’ll be two southbound and one northbound (from Squamish).

A fleet of 32 snow plows will be deployed Feb. 1 to March 2 on the highway. Eight heavy and medium-duty tow trucks and five “incident response units” will be on-call to clear auto wrecks from the Lions Gate and Second Narrows to Whistler.

For ticketholders to snow events, first-come, first-served online bus reservations begin Nov. 24 for the mandatory $25 round-trip to Whistler and $12 round-trip to Cypress. The price doubles Jan. 4.

The first phase of the plan was released in March. The blueprint was originally due at the end of 2007.

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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