The federal and provincial governments will make improvements to Lougheed Highway from Pitt Meadows to Mission, as well as upgrade the Haney Bypass as part of a joint funding project totalling $70 million, announced Friday.
Lougheed Hwy. will be widened along a 3.1-kilometre stretch in Mission, from two to four lanes, and a concrete median barrier installed between Silverdale Avenue and Nelson Street.
Funding for that portion is $41.5 million.
“This major investment in Highway 7 through Mission will benefit local businesses, residents and tourists alike, while helping to foster long-term prosperity across the region,” MP Jati Sidhu (Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon), said in a release.
In Maple Ridge, intersection improvements will be made along the Haney Bypass at the four areas of congestion.
The work includes reconfiguration of the intersection of Lougheed Hwy. and 222nd Street, as well as that at Kanaka Way to improve safety for traffic travelling in both directions.
David Pollock, city engineer, said the ministry has discussed, in the past two to three years, a multi-staged approach to improving turning capacity at both ends of the bypass.
That could include a second turn lane off the highway heading west at the east end, and require property acquisitions.
At the west end, Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs, said the city is looking to have a double right-turn lane off the highway onto the bypass.
The latter could involve the acquisition of a portion of the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries property, as well as that for the Maple Ridge Baptist Church.
“To do any of this, I think they are going to have to acquire property,” Speirs said.
“There’s going to be impacts at both ends.”
Details are not final.
“There may be an impact to the church property to the north,” Pollock added.
“It depends on how they configure the intersections.”
Grant Smith, ministry of transportation operations manager, said the improvements are still in the design phase.
“The design will dictate what we need for property.”
Dalton confirmed a portion of the Salvation Army property, where parking stalls now front the highway, will be taken for the improvements.
The bypass intersections at Callaghan Avenue and 227th Street will receive new traffic signals.
Those improvements will cost $22.3 million.
“The Haney Bypass is a key part of Highway 7, and right now, it’s clogged with traffic congestion, especially during peak times,” said MLA Doug Bing (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows).
Katelynn Kirkland, was killed in a car that collided with a pickup truck on the bypass at Callaghan Ave. on May 10, 2015 – Mother’s Day.
She was 15.
Her family petitioned for improvements to what they called “Katie’s Corner.”
“After a long time of telling us they couldn’t put up a traffic light there,” Speirs said of the provincial government, “all of a sudden they can.”
He appreciates it, though.
“People just have to slow down a bit.”
In Pitt Meadows, the eastbound right turn lane on Lougheed Hwy. at Harris Road will be extended.
This will create a continuous auxiliary lane between Allan Way and Harris Rd. That will allow commercial vehicles to enter onto the highway from Allan Way at CPR Intermodal Yard with enough distance to increase speed and merge with highway traffic.
That improvement will cost $6.2 million.
As senior government officials announced the projects on Friday, a new overpass at Harris Road in Pitt Meadows was conspicuously absent.
Addressing that commuter choke point has been a priority for Pitt Meadows city council, but Friday’s plan allowed only for an extended right turn lane onto Harris Road from Lougheed.
“It’s still being considered,” Bing said of the overpass.
“But not at this time – there’s still lots of other things to be worked out there. It’s a complex issue.”
He said the discussions about the North Lougheed Connector must be completed, because it ties into the overpass project. The connector was been touted as an alternative east-west route from 232 Street in Maple Ridge to Harris Road.
Bing said the changes announced Friday will “absolutely” reduce congestion at the Harris Road bottleneck.
“I know that the commuters will really appreciate getting onto that right turn lane onto Harris Road. There’s 18,0000 people who live in Pitt Meadows and many of them are stuck in the traffic heading to Maple Ridge and Mission at that point” said Bing. “So they will be able to get home a few minutes faster because of this right turn lane.”
Pitt Meadows Coun. Janis Elkerton attended the announcement, and allowed that she had her fingers crossed for funding of a Harris Road interchange as part of it.
“I was hoping that was going to be the case, but I’m pleased with the extension of the right hand turn lane,” said Elkerton. “Because our traffic problems are not just our own, they are also Maple Ridge and Mission’s. The faster and safer we can get cars through that intersection the better for our residents.”
She said eastbound commuters turning into Pitt Meadows are often backed up in the right hand lane on the Lougheed now, particularly during rush hour, after 3 p.m.
“Any improvement in traffic congestion is good news,” said Elkerton.
All the upgrades are part of a $70-million strategy for the Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Mission corridor to accommodate increasing traffic demands and regional growth in this area.
The improvements are expected to be completed by winter 2018-19.
More than 200 jobs are expected to be created over the life of the corridor enhancement project.
Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read called on the provincial government to make safety improvements to Lougheed Hwy and the Haney Bypass in 2015.
Along with RCMP, she sought extending the concrete median barriers on the highway from 240th to 272nd streets, as well as widening it to four lanes to 287th Street. She also wanted the bypass widened and the corner at 222nd Street improved.
The requests came in the wake of a three-vehicle collision on an open stretch of the highway in the 25500-block that claimed the life of Cory Wik in February of that year.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure then started a “conceptual planning study and business case” for widening Lougheed Hwy., between 266th and 287th streets, as well as from Silverdale to Nelson Street in Mission.
Read attended the announcement Friday.