The Golden Ears Bridge. (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)

The Golden Ears Bridge. (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)

Golden Ears Bridge at 10: Community had called for a crossing for decades

From nothing, to the Albion Ferry, to the bridge was a long wait

A new record was set this May, as more than 60,000 drivers per day crossed the Golden Ears Bridge in a single month.

Numbers have shot up over the last few years, particularly following the removal of tolls on Sept. 1, 2017. July and August numbers were in the range of 41,000 per day, while September saw an immediate leap to 48,800, and the number of travellers crossed 50,000 per day in the spring of 2018.

The new peak number for crossings comes just as the bridge celebrates its 10th anniversary of connecting Langley and the South of the Fraser to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to the north.

The first drivers crossed the Golden Ears Bridge on June 16th, 2009, starting a new era for travellers.

The bridge was a long time coming.

Plans were tossed around as far back as the early 20th Century, but from the 1920s to the 1950s, the main plan was to get a ferry crossing.

Even that took decades, with the first announcement of an imminent ferry connection in 1927. It would take three decades, and multiple scrapped attempts, before the Albion Ferry opened, connecting Glover Road in Langley to Maple Ridge.

“So here is you ferry, which you have wanted for 30 years, so do not ask for a bridge for at least a week,” quipped Evan Jones, then the deputy highways minister, at the ferry’s ribbon cutting ceremony on June 3, 1957.

The ferry simplified travel across the river, but it wasn’t all positive for Fort Langley residents and merchants.

By the 2000s, locals were as likely to complain about the added traffic, which rushed through the village every time a ferry unloaded.

The Kwantlen First Nation’s leadership was not terribly happy with the long lineups that ran past the homes of several band members. They complained about noise and vandalism, particularly by some late-night passengers.

But some merchants in the Fort worried that business would drop off once the ferry closed.

“I am not sure they ever stopped to shop in our village,” said Andy Schildhorn, president of the Fort Langley Community Association. “I remember as the owner of Waldo & Tubbs pet foods giving out hundreds of gift cards etc to drivers in the ferry line up. We never saw one gift card come back to the store.”

By the early 2000s, the provincial government and TransLink were seriously looking into a permanent link across the Fraser. The project was announced in 2003, with 200th Street the preferred corridor. Other suggested locations had ranged from 172nd Street in Surrey, or across Barnston Island at 192nd Street.

Construction began in 2006 on what was planned to be an $808 million project.

Unlike some massive construction projects, the schedule didn’t slip – in fact, the bridge was opened a couple of weeks ahead of a planned July 1 opening. Vehicles had 30 days to test it out toll-free before the automatic license plate readers and transponders on the bridge began collecting tolls.

In 2017, tolls were dropped, along with tolls on the Port Mann Bridge, in accordance with an election promise of the newly-elected NDP government.

That caused another spike in daily traffic, as more drivers opted for the route.

Local mayors said the project has caused a big difference for communities on both sides of the river.

“Its construction helped companies such as Overwaitea and Best Buy make the decision to locate retail chain warehouses and grow in northwest Langley, creating jobs and enhancing our commercial climate,” said Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese. “And it is certainly appreciated by those who commute to work, offering direct access to other transportation networks such as the West Coast Express and the Carvolth Exchange.”

He also noted that the ending of ferry traffic meant an opportunity to return Glover Road north of the Jacob Haldi Bridge to the Kwantlen First Nation.

Commerce and travel has been expanded, said the mayor of Maple Ridge.

“You can see today, though, that the removal of the tolls has created quite an indicator of how much cross traffic there is in between the communities,” said Mayor Mike Morden of Maple Ridge.

It’s also given people from the Maple Ridge side access to a border crossing within about 20 minutes, Morden said – something that wasn’t close to possible before the bridge.

Langley City has seen more access for people visiting shops and restaurants, and coming to regional and local attractions, said the City’s Mayor Val van den Broek.

“Langley City noticed a significant difference when the provincial government eliminated tolls on the bridges,” van den Broek said.

“For us, having that bridge has just been a godsend,” said Bill Dingwall, mayor of Pitt Meadows.

Local tourism and shopping has benefited, he said.

“People on the south side of the Fraser can come and enjoy Pitt Meadows,” Dingwall said.

With more than 60,000 vehicles crossing the bridge on an average day in the spring, that means that about 1.8 million vehicles cross the Golden Ears Bridge every month.

Fort LangleyLangleyTransportation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jack Emberly is the host of a podcast on CEED Pod. (The News files)
CEED Centre in Maple Ridge launches new podcast

Available on CEED Centre website

The Ridge Meadows Flames are hosting an under-15 development skate this summer. (Facebook)
Ridge Meadows Flames announce under-15 development camp

Junior B club to host eight skates in July

BC Hydro is allowing the water levels on the South Alouette River to be higher this spring, to allow a study of sockeye smolt out-migration. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge river higher for sockeye smolt study

Sockeye salmon smolt migration in South Alouette studied

Last year T’s, with the help of UPlan, the Youth Planning Table subcommittee, made up of about 20 students from the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district, decorated their front window with the names of all the graduates. (The News files)
Parent doesn’t want 2021 grads to be forgotten

Letter from superintendent of Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows School District explains grad guidelines

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read