For the first time since the decision to cancel the SNG LRT project, TransLink is asking the public to submit their feedback on the planned Fraser Highway extension of SkyTrain’s Expo Line from King George Station to Langley Centre.
A recently launched online survey gauges public opinion on the level of importance of factors such as speed and predictable travel times, comfort and safety, technological choices that best help address climate change and air pollution, economic development and job growth, and the reduction of urban sprawl.
As a part of the project’s first phase of consultation, the survey ends on April 26 and there will also be an on-site presence at select transit hubs in Surrey and Langley during the consultation period and Surrey’s Vaisakhi festivities on Saturday, April 20.
Feedback will be used to help advance the designs and plans for the SkyTrain extension and this year’s concurrent process of refreshing the 2014-approved South of Fraser Rapid Transit Strategy, which entailed building 27 kms of rapid transit and included LRT.
Subject to senior government approvals, the public transit authority intends to reallocate the $1.6-billion budget set aside for LRT towards constructing a significant portion of the 16-km-long Fraser Highway extension.
The full cost of the SkyTrain project was last pegged at an estimated $2.9 billion, including a significant 25% contingency fund. An extension reaching all the way to Langley Centre depends on the finalization of Phase Three funding.
A recent City of Surrey staff report notes the 15-month plan, approved by the Mayors’ Council in mid-December 2018, to reach the milestone of completing a business case for the project is “proceeding quickly and on schedule, utilizing the conceptual work completed in 2017 and incorporating recent experience from the Evergreen SkyTrain project.”
TransLink and municipal staff are currently scheduled to complete preliminary design and costing by June 2019, draft a business case to the Mayors’ Council by July 2019, and finalize the reference design, costs, and business case by December 2019.
The completion of the Phase Three investment plan and the launch of the contractor bidding phase is anticipated in spring 2020. If all goes as planned, construction could begin in 2021 for an opening in 2025 — the same year the Broadway Extension to Arbutus Street is scheduled to open.
As for rapid transit on the former LRT corridor along 104 Avenue and King George Boulevard, as an interim solution, TransLink has stated it will redirect the funds set aside for Fraser Highway B-Line infrastructure to enhancing the existing 96 B-Line bus service.
In favour of more modest temporary bus service improvements, a decision was made to cancel the Fraser Highway B-Line given that its physical infrastructure would have a very short lifespan prior to the start of SkyTrain construction early in the 2020s.