Fraser Valley Regional District wants Highway 1 widened from Langley to Chilliwack

Jul 30 2019, 10:13 pm

Additional lane capacity is needed on Highway 1 for strengthened connections across the Lower Mainland, according to the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD).

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In a recent report, the FVRD says it will be “strongly encouraging” the provincial government to expedite the widening of the highway to support HOV/bus lanes as a short-term transportation improvement measure, while rail transit is explored over the long term.

They want the prioritization of Highway 1’s widening from 264th in the Township of Langley to Whatcom Road in Abbotsford sooner than later, and eventually all the way to Chilliwack. The regional district says more capacity is needed to serve not only commuters but also the heavy truck traffic from cargo and goods movement.

“The FVRD recognizes the efficiency and effectiveness of rapid transit, but the immediate need for Highway 1 improvements should not be overshadowed by the long-term potential for rapid transit,” reads the report.

“The FVRD and member municipalities are actively engaging the province on urgently needed improvements to Highway 1 to address congestion issues that are increasing economic, social, and public safety costs throughout the Fraser Valley.”

A community group recently rekindled the idea of reintroducing passenger rail services on the Interurban railway corridor, but FVRD cites the 2010 BC Ministry of Transportation analysis on such a service that deemed the costs to be “prohibitive in the foreseeable future,” especially against its limited benefits. The provincial study also found a premium express bus service on Highway 1 would be significantly more economical and attract comparable ridership levels, with far higher service levels and comparatively negligible implementation and operating costs.

In 2015, FVRD supported BC Transit’s launch of the Fraser Valley Express — a limited-stop express bus service along Highway 1 between Chilliwack’s Downtown Exchange and Langley’s Carvolth Exchange. The service has been a ridership success, and there are now plans to improve the service in 2021 by moving the route’s western terminus all the way to SkyTrain Millennium Line’s Lougheed Town Centre Station in Burnaby.

FVRD also notes TransLink’s most recent analysis and position; last month, the public transit authority indicated it does not support the Interurban, but would consider it in the long-term context of its Transport 2050 program of creating a new 30-year regional transportation strategy.

Through Transport 2050, both the provincial government and TransLink have previously expressed a desire to explore improved inter-regional public transit connections.

“Passenger rail service south of the Fraser is desired by many, but it will require very considerable investment by provincial, federal and local governments in both Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley to be achieved within the timeframe of current plans,” continues the report.

“Endorsing a specific transit option without a full assessment of costs (capital and operating), benefits and alternative routes and technologies is not a prudent approach. Long term planning for rapid transit south of the Fraser is necessary and should be undertaken in collaboration with the Province, BC Transit and TransLink.”