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Port Mann toll dodgers not affecting Pitt traffic
While the closure of the recent Port Mann upset traffic plans, the long-term effects of a new tolled bridge across the Fraser River aren't expected to spawn local traffic jams as people detour through Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows and across the Pitt River Bridge to escape the tolls.
So far, Ike de Boer with the City of Pitt Meadows engineering services, says there hasn't been any change in traffic patterns on along the Lougheed Highway (Hwy. 7), the main thoroughfare through both communities.
"In Pitt Meadows, we don't see a difference yet."
But with Christmas holiday season just wrapping up, it's the wrong time of year to make a definite assessment.
January could see an increase in traffic, he added.
In the District of Maple Ridge, municipal engineer Dave Pollock says it may take a while for people to figure out the best route into Vancouver, so the district is taking a wait-and-see approach to see if there are any local effects.
He pointed out that west of the Haney Bypass, the Lougheed turns into an urban road.
Motorists may eventually realize it's cheaper and quicker to just stay on Hwy. 1 and pay the Port Mann Bridge toll rather than drive through Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Coquitlam.
Pollock pointed out that a sign on Hwy. 1 points out that the Lougheed Highway is available as a toll-free alternative.
"In the early new year, we'll be in touch with the minister to see what's happening."
The ministry has said it's not tracking traffic numbers on the Lougheed to see if a tolled Port Mann Bridge is diverting traffic to the north side of the Fraser River.
Meanwhile, a new traffic light is being installed at 272nd Street, to allow cars safer access to the Thornhill area.
That complements a new traffic light at 280th Street that serves a growing residential population in the eastern part of the district.