Residents are protesting a proposal to turn Prior Street into an arterial route.

Vancouver city council approved a plan to develop a Prior/Venables Street underpass on Wednesday.

The plan would help separate the vehicle and pedestrian roadway from railway tracks to expand rail capacity between Vancouver's port and the False Creek Flats railyard. It means Prior Street would become the primary route connecting East Vancouver with downtown after the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts come down.

The move comes days after Strathcona residents rallied to demand council calm the busy street.

The plan included some design elements to calm the street.

"The idea of building a large arterial anywhere in the city seems counterintuitive to our goals in the climate emergency response," Coun. Christine Boyle said.

However, not all councillors were in favour of the plan.

"I have not seen any significant plan here to direct traffic off of the viaduct. I think it's going to slow traffic but I don't think it's going to reduce it," said Coun. Rebecca Bligh.