Olympic torch arrives during rush hour

Torch route

When the Olympic torch arrives here Feb. 8, few people will not get swept up in the excitement.

But just to ensure it stays all good, keep in mind the road closures that will accompany the Olympic icon’s arrival in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows early that day, a Monday.

The torch first arrives from Mission in Maple Ridge at Telosky Stadium (near Thomas Haney secondary) on Lougheed Highway at 7:06 a.m.

Moments after it reaches that area, torch bearers will carry the flame in 300-metre stretches west on Lougheed then north on 227th Street to Dewdney Trunk Road.

From there, the procession heads west to 224th Street, where it turns south to Memorial Peace Park.

Commuters may want to keep that in mind because the two westbound lanes of Dewdney Trunk Road will be closed for a half or so.

“It will be rolling road closures, so once they pass through, the road opens up again,” explained Kyle McLellan, chair of the task force organizing the run in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

When torch arrives here, it moves from a convoy process, that is, inside a vehicle, to the relay phase, where it’s carried by lucky torch bearers. Just who gets to carry the torch, or even how many torch bearers there will be, isn’t known.

“We don’t have confirmed numbers. Everything in terms of torch bearers is controlled by Vanoc. Names aren’t announced until two days before the relay,” McLellan said.

Estimated time of arrival in Memorial Peace Park is 7:30 a.m., said McLellan, who carried the torch in December in Ontario.

But entertainment starts about an hour earlier, when kids from the Fabulous Feet dance club take to the stage in the gazebo at 6:20 a.m.

Following that, there will be a mini-torch run around the park so kids can get a taste of the event. VIP speeches, giveaways, pancakes and the unveiling of four Spirit of Wood panels and cheerleaders will keep up the entertainment until the torch arrives.

It won’t stay long. After some quick photo ops, the torch is carried down to 224th Street and Lougheed Highway, where it re-enters the “convoy” phase and is driven to Harris Road and Lougheed Highway in Pitt Meadows.

Arrival time at that location is estimated at 8:16 a.m.

From there, the torch will be carried south on Harris Road to Spirit Square at city hall in Pitt Meadows. The procession will also require closing of the southbound lanes of Harris Road, about 15 minutes beforehand and while the torch passes by, McLellan pointed out.

Arrival time at Spirit Square in Pitt Meadows is estimated at 8:30 a.m., for more photos ops, including another four panels of Spirit of Wood. Dancers from Centre Stage will entertain there.

McLellan said ice sculptures should also be part of the decorations at city hall. Spectators are asked to wear red and white and find other ways of getting there than by car because parking will be limited.

From there, the torch continues south on Harris Road, then east on Hammond Road. That will require the closing of Hammond Road to allow residents and school kids the chance to see the process.

The torch relay continues east as far as the Golden Ears Bridge, where the torch will again be put into convoy mode, about 9 a.m., and driven across the bridge to Langley.

Bonnie Telep, with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows’ Spirit of B.C. Community Committee, said response for the group’s Paint the Town Red campaign, done in concert with the business improvement association, is doing well.

Volunteers have sold about 100 strings of red Christmas lights so businesses can light up their premises in honour of the procession.

Dressing up your home, school or business in red could win you a prize from the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association.

The torch relay has drawn thousands of excited spectators across the country.

“I’m excited to see how many people come out,” Telep said.