Early construction work underway for Surrey-Langley SkyTrain

Jul 15 2021, 2:47 am

Early construction work and site preparation is commencing on the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project this month.

On Monday, city council approved a contract award for widening Fraser Highway within Green Timbers Urban Forest as part of the Expo Line extension project.

The road widening is now underway, with in-stream works set for August and September. Additionally, the municipal government is also relocating the existing digital billboard from the Surrey Sport and Leisure site on Fraser Highway to accommodate the space required for SkyTrain’s elevated guideway.

The Fraser Highway widening doubles the roadway from two lanes to four lanes, while also creating space required for the elevated guideway, and dedicated cycling and pedestrian pathways.

skytrain fraser highway widening green timbers

Eastbound view: Optimized SkyTrain design with four-lane Fraser Highway between 144 Street to 148 Street through Green Timbers Urban Forest. (City of Surrey)

skytrain fraser highway widening green timbers

Eastbound view: Optimized SkyTrain design with four-lane Fraser Highway at the intersection with 96 Avenue in Green Timbers Urban Forest. (City of Surrey)

skytrain fraser highway widening green timbers

Eastbound view: Optimized SkyTrain design with four-lane Fraser Highway (mid block) between 140 Street and 96 Avenue through Green Timbers Urban Forest. (City of Surrey)

Widening the road to two lanes in each direction over a 1.5-km-long distance is an extension of Fraser Highway’s four-lane standard along the corridor beyond Green Timbers. The trees being removed are within the existing road allowance.

Between 140 Street and 96 Avenue, the segment of SkyTrain’s elevated guideway — two main tracks, and a side track for train storage in the middle of the block — will run on a centre median and above the eastbound travel lanes. For the segment between 96 Avenue and 148 Street, the elevated guideway with two main tracks will operate on a centre median.

“I’m really proud that we’re moving ahead so quickly to advance the preparation work for SkyTrain,” said Mayor Doug McCallum in a statement.

“This SkyTrain extension will deliver rapid transportation, and connect our growing communities, while reducing congestion on our roads. It will also deliver well-paying jobs and grow our economy, as we recover from the pandemic. The time has come to get started on this vital transportation project, and the City is ready to go.”

Green Timbers Fraser Highway Surrey

Fraser Highway through Green Timbers forest. (Google Maps)

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Site plan of 140 Street Station on the Expo Line’s Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Extension. (TransLink)

City council’s direction to start early works comes just days after the federal government announced its funding commitment of $1.3 billion towards the project.

The entire SkyTrain extension project is now estimated to cost $3.95 billion, which is over $800 million more than the previous estimate of $3.13 billion. The provincial government and TransLink will fund the remainder.

However, the project’s exact implementation timeline is unclear. TransLink had previously hoped to launch procurement for the primary contractor by early 2021 to allow for the start of major construction in early 2022, and an opening in 2025. The business case for the project was only recently approved by the federal and provincial governments, and the provincial government has since taken over jurisdiction of the project from TransLink to “expedite” construction in a single phase.

This will be a 16-km-long, elevated extension of the Expo Line eastward along Fraser Highway from the existing King George Station in Surrey City Centre to 203 Street in Langley Centre.

There will be a total of eight new above-ground stations, as well as three bus exchanges, park-and-ride facilities, a major new additional train yard near the Langley end of the line, supporting system upgrades, and the acquisition of 30 additional SkyTrain cars.

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Map of the two stages of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Extension. (TransLink)

This new continuous segment of the Expo Line is expected to have a travel time of about 22 minutes, which is over 25 minutes faster than existing buses.

Ridership along the extension is expected to grow to 62,000 daily passengers by 2035, and 71,200 by 2050. About 24,000 to 30,000 passengers are expected to be new public transit users who previously used other modes of transportation, particularly private vehicles.

The municipal government is proceeding with the Fraser Highway road widening at this time to reduce future costs. Traffic management models by the city also show that there will be a need for a four-lane arterial roadway through Green Timbers, regardless of the transit project, due to the current traffic volumes, future high density, and population growth along the corridor. Currently, the stretch of Fraser Highway through Green Timbers is the busiest two-lane road in Surrey with over 28,000 vehicles daily.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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