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Cable car in Bordeaux: the question of the route is a real headache

Prototypes can be seen on the quays of Bordeaux, near the Maison écocitoyenne.
Prototypes can be seen on the quays of Bordeaux, near the Maison écocitoyenne. (©Actu.fr / Nicolas Gosselin)

A public consultation on the gondola project in Bordeaux is open until February 13, 2023. In particular, it should allow progress on the choice of route among the nine selected scenarios. Cost, integration into the environment, travel time, station locations… Many criteria come into play.

Right away, six scenarios were ruled out even before the start of the consultation. One of them, for example, proposed a terminus at Brandenburg but it was considered “too far from the center of gravity of the metropolis” and it required “a significant length of flight over the Garonne”.

On the left bank, two terminuses have been favored: Achard or The City of Wine. On the right bank, the field of possibilities is wider. Should we create a service in the Lissandre district in Lormont or not? Should we prioritize La Buttinière or Rocher de Palmer as a terminus? Or push to Four Pavilions ?

Nine route scenarios were selected for public consultation.
Nine route scenarios were selected for public consultation. (©Bordeaux Metropolis)

We went through the consultation file to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the different routes (Cité du vin as far as Buttinière, Rocher de Palmer or Quatre Pavillons; Achard as far as Buttinière, Rocher de Palmer or 4 Pavillons with or without serving the Lissandre district).

A terminus at La Cité du vin generates fears

With a terminus at the La Cité du vin tram stop, the gondola project could benefit fromgreater attractiveness thanks to a central location and excellent intermodality (tram B, future express bus, existing bus lines, pedestrian connection from the quay promenade).

Concretely, according to projections, it would make it possible to transport up to 18,100 passengers per day in 2030 with a terminus at the Quatre Pavillons on the other bank.

If the terminus on the left bank was located in Achard, the consultation file mentions 16,500 travelers at best, by way of comparison.

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However, this scenario presents several pitfalls. First, there is the question of urban integration considered sensitive “with regard to the heritage value of the site, classified by Unesco”. At the end of 2022, Alain Anziani, the president of Bordeaux Métropole, also admitted not really knowing what to expect on this subject.

An aerial view with the hypothesis of a station at the foot of the Chaban-Delmas bridge.
An aerial view with the hypothesis of a station at the foot of the Chaban-Delmas bridge. (©Photomontage Bordeaux Métropole)

Secondly, it is the most expensive since such a route would cost between 63 and 83 million euros depending on the variants chosen on the right bank (we are talking about 53 to 75 million euros for a terminus at Achard).

Finally, thirdly, it involves an overview of industrial sites including that of Construction Navale de Bordeaux. An idea that does not delight the boss of CNB “We invest a lot to be competitive. For this, we must protect our innovations. With an overview of the site, we expose our processes and our novelties. »

The economy of a service to Lissandre, a good calculation?

Of the two major scenarios retained with a terminus on the left bank located at the level of the Achard tram stop, one favors an intermediate station north of the Lissandre district in Lormont in order to avoid CNB flying over but which would not allow not the access of the travelers because of the configuration of the place. It would only be a technical infrastructure allowing the bend to reach La Buttinière or Le Rocher de Palmer.

The two main advantages of this option? For a route to the Four Pavilions, the project presents lowest cost (69 million euros) and the shortest travel time (9’10). Two significant strengths.

The big downside is that it does not serve the Lissandre district, which is home to around 1,500 jobs including 1,100 for Construction Navale de Bordeaux and 130 for Marie Brizard. Not to mention that the sector is in full development and many real estate or commercial projects are planned there.

The scenario of a route without a station in the Lisandre district.
The scenario of a route without a station in the Lissandre district. (©Photomontage Bordeaux Métropole)

By placing the intermediate station in the south of the Lissandre district, as for the route at the start or finish of the La Cité du vin terminus, we could not avoid flying over industrial sites but the station would be accessible to travelers. Also, a 300-space car park could be set up to support the urban development of the district.

Roughly speaking, the project would be slightly more expensive (75 million euros for a route up to the Four Pavilions) but almost the same travel time and the number of passengers transported each day is much greater (virtually 4,000 more in 2030).

The Rocher de Palmer, the least attractive terminus

A final question remains to be raised: which terminus should be chosen on the right bank? On paper, a terminus at Rocher de Palmer rather than La Buttinière would be hard to justify because in the best of scenarios, it would transport 2,300 fewer passengers every day in 2030. Without being faster and without a guarantee of costing less.

But don’t go too fast… A route passing through Le Rocher de Palmer is not to be buried because the Metropolis is also considering a terminus at Quatre Pavillons with an intermediate station located at Rocher de Palmer rather than La Buttinière.

One scenario envisages a station near Rocher de Palmer and a terminus at the Quatre Pavillons shopping centre.
One scenario envisages a station near Rocher de Palmer and a terminus at the Quatre Pavillons shopping centre. (©Photomontage Bordeaux Métropole)

A more expensive option and with a longer journey time, but which would have the major advantage of attracting more travelers on a daily basis, of allowing the inhabitants of the left bank to go to the Quatre Pavillons shopping center without taking the car and to offer a modal shift solution for motorists coming from the east of the metropolis and beyond thanks to the creation of a new park-and-ride.

At last, a station at La Buttinière would allow easy access to line A of the tramway and the bus lines serving the interchange of the same name but also the main facilities in the sector, such as the Right Bank Polyclinic and the Parc des Coteaux. In addition, an active mode gateway would connect Cenon and the park and ride would be the subject of an expansion project to increase its capacity.

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