SkyTrain project includes four-lane widening of Fraser Highway in Green Timbers

Sep 15 2020, 3:38 am

Fraser Highway through Green Timbers Urban Forest will be widened to accommodate both a larger roadway and the elevated guideway of SkyTrain’s future Expo Line extension towards Langley.

The City of Surrey states it has worked with TransLink on an optimized design to widen the arterial roadway from the existing two-lane width to a new four-lane standard between 140 Street and 148 Street.

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.

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)

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 between 144 Street to 148 Street through Green Timbers Urban Forest. (City of Surrey)

The roadway widening and elevated guideway will require a width of 22.5 metres through Green Timbers (a length of roughly 1.5 kms), except at intersections where a slightly greater width may be required. The trees that will need to be removed are within the existing road allowance.

Green Timbers Fraser Highway Surrey

Fraser Highway through Green Timbers forest. (Google Maps)

TransLink’s previous design entailed the elevated guideway and retaining the existing two travel lanes through Green Timbers, but the municipal government intends to complete Fraser Highway’s widening simultaneously with the SkyTrain project to reduce capital costs and the impact on residents, businesses, and traffic. Performing both projects at the same time will have the added environmental benefit of not having to “disturb the forest on multiple occasions.”

City staff state in a report Fraser Highway is the busiest two-lane road in Surrey, with over 28,000 vehicles daily.

Transportation modelling conducted by the city shows even with SkyTrain, there will be a need for a four-lane Fraser Highway through Green Timbers by 2025 due to current traffic volumes, future density, and population growth along the corridor.

“There are no other feasible corridors that can accommodate this volume. Four-laning will provide a capacity, which meets the city’s long-term horizon,” reads a city staff report, which indicates the current congestion and anti-idling reduction equates to an annual reduction of 106 tonnes of greenhouse gases, aligning with the municipality’s climate action initiatives.

skytrain fraser highway widening green timbers

2019 traffic counts on Fraser Highway through Green Timbers. (City of Surrey)

City staff also note the optimized design has satisfied the main concerns of the Green Timbers Urban Forest Society, which previously voiced opposition to the idea of running SkyTrain at ground level and the possibility of extensive tree removal.

The road widening will be integrated to the SkyTrain project, with the city covering the added estimated cost of between $5.5 million and $6 million.

TransLink is expected to begin the third stage of online consultation on the SkyTrain project over the coming weeks, at which time the updated project design — including the roadway widening in Green Timbers — will be presented to the public for feedback.

Early this month, Premier John Horgan stated an announcement on the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project will be made “shortly.” It remains to be seen whether the Expo Line extension will reach 166 Street in Fleetwood or continue to the ultimate destination of 203 Street in Langley Centre.

Fraser Highway SkyTrain King George Station Langley Centre

2019 map of the Fraser Highway SkyTrain extension from King George Station to Langley Centre. (TransLink)

This SkyTrain project will cost $1.6 billion if it is half built, reaching Fleetwood (seven kms, four stations), or $3.1 billion if the extension is built in a single large phase all the way to Langley Centre (16 kms, eight stations).

As a result of COVID-19, TransLink is facing budgetary issues that may affect its fiscal capacity to cover its $1.1 billion share of the $1.6 billion cost to Fleetwood, with the remainder covered by the federal government. The additional $1.5 billion for the rest of the extension between Fleetwood and Langley Centre likely depends on senior governments.

TransLink anticipates an Expo Line extension from King George Station to only Fleetwood — a travel time of under 10 minutes — will attract daily boardings of about 40,000 by 2035. A full extension to Langley Centre, with a travel time of 22 minutes, will see 62,000 daily boardings by 2035.

TransLink is aiming to launch its procurement process for a construction contractor in early 2021. If all goes as planned, construction on the extension either to Fleetwood or all the way to Langley could begin in 2022 for a completion in 2025, the same year the Millennium Line Broadway Extension to Arbutus will also open.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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