As Maple Ridge’s population grows at a pace that doubles the national average, the city is striving to build infrastructure, and one of the keys will be its transportation plan.
Mayor Dan Ruimy and his council call their plan Maple Ridge Moves, which in essence prioritizes a new east-west route through Maple Ridge, a new bridge to the Silver Valley area, and upgraded transit connections to Langley and Coquitlam, and TransLink’s regional system.
Just before Halloween, Ruimy was in Victoria lobbying ministers and officials for funding for Maple Ridge Moves, explaining how the city can partner on these critical projects.
“We’re reinforcing the narrative of who we are in Maple Ridge, and that we want to work with senior government,” said Ruimy, a former MP.
He said the projects are critical to moving the city forward.
The province wants to get more people using the transit system, and to build more homes to alleviate the region’s housing crisis. In the provincial capital Ruimy told ministers, including Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon, how Maple Ridge Moves overlaps with the province’s own goals.
“We’re showing them that our priorities are also their priorities,” he said.
Ruimy was joined by MLAs Bob D’Eith and Lisa Beare, whom he called “really great advocates for the city.”
Maple Ridge Moves will ease traffic congestion as the city continues to build. It will open up industrial lands, and help reduce greenhouse gases.
The plan includes:
• The introduction of two new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Lines to Coquitlam and Langley City.
• Expand Abernethy Way, which will provide second east-west commuter route, take traffic off Lougheed Highway, and open up industrial lands.
• Build a bridge to Silver Valley at 240th street
• Enhance Golden Ears Way
Ruimy explained that the key to BRT is not the type of bus used, but a dedicated lane, with faster and more frequent buses. It would connect Maple Ridge to SkyTrain stations in Coquitlam and coming to Langley. He recently saw BRT in use in Montreal, and said it was a way to avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic.
“Once you get in that bus, it’s a clear lane through,” he said. “You can count on it. You’re not going to be stuck in traffic.”
The Lougheed Highway BRT would replacing the existing R3 RapidBus that connects Maple Ridge with Coquitlam.
“I believe it would be a game changer for us,” said Ruimy.
He hopes the buses chosen will be electric, which will maximize the GHG reductions.
The city is already working on widening Abernethy Way – a route which will ultimately link the Golden Ears Bridge to industrial lands in eastern Maple Ridge at 256th Street. It will also be a direct link to the Golden Ears Provincial Park and Alouette Lake, which is one of the province’s busiest natural playgrounds.
The projects are expensive, and will require senior government funding.
First Abernethy will be widened between 224th Street and 230th – work that has already begun – at a cost of $15 million.
The next phase would see the city extend Abernethy Way from 232nd to 240th Streets, at an estimated cost of $38.5 million. That would include lighting, sidewalks and a multi-use path.
The next phase, costing $60 million, would push Abernethy further east to 256th Street. The timeline the city lists to complete this work is by 2027.
A bridge over the Alouette River at 240th Street is another important part of this transportation route. Not only is it a key access to the Golden Ears Provincial Park, but it would provide a second emergency access into Silver Valley, which is home to some 11,000 residents. The bridge would cost an estimated $60 million.
Ruimy noted climate change has brought unprecedented emergencies and whole community evacuations, and a second route out of Silver Valley should be a priority for those interested in disaster preparedness.
The city will also lobby for four-laning along Golden Ears Way, to eliminate a two-lane bottleneck there.
Ruimy said the projects that make up Maple Ridge Moves are among the city’s highest priorities.
“If we’re going to continue to build housing, we need the transportation infrastructure as well.”
Meanwhile, the City of Pitt Meadows continues to try and find funding for a critical piece of transportation infrastructure – CP Rail underpass at Harris Road. That project still needs $50 million, and the city will not put the burden on local taxpayers, and Mayor Nicole MacDonald recently told council she continues to lobby senior government.
The Pitt Meadows transportation plans include enhanced transit, with more frequent bus service, and improved regional connections.