The BC Liberals promised Tuesday to widen Highway One from Langley all the way to Whatcom Road in Abbotsford.
In addition to widening the highway all the way to Castle Fun Park and the link to Abbotsford’s border crossing, the Liberals promised to invest $5 million into transit, particularly in the rapid bus service that links Langley with SkyTrain to the west and Abbotsford to the east.
“We are going to have to do that eventually,” Langley Liberal candidate Mary Polak said of the rationale for extending the highway through most of Abbotsford.
One of the main reasons for widening the highway that far east is because of the existing – and still growing – population in Langley, Abbotsford, and even Chilliwack that commutes on the highway, said Polak.
“The project will increase both the capacity and the safety of this vital highway and it is so exciting to be able to announce that this long-awaited project would become a reality under a BC Liberal government,” said Margaret Kunst, the Liberal candidate for Langley East.
The other reason is trade.
Widening the highway that far east will put extra lanes in place to connect to the roads leading to both of the Fraser Valley’s major U.S. border crossings, at Sumas and at Aldergrove.
Widening the highway will have an impact for all the trucks that cross to and from the United States with imports and experts.
Langley NDP candidate Andrew Mercier was critical of the Liberal promise to widen the highway coming now.
“The BC Liberals had 16 years to address this issue but never did,” Mercier said. “The BC NDP will widen the highway and invest in the much-needed infrastructure that the BC Liberals neglected over the many years.”
Polak noted that she oversaw previous highway projects as minister of transportation, including the widening associated with the creation of the new Port Mann Bridge.
The Liberals look at things as being interconnected, Polak said, which is one reason for the widening pledge.
She said that the Liberals will have to discuss funding more rapid buses with the TransLink Mayors’ Council, but the most expensive parts of funding bus links like that is building the road infrastructure. Once the roads are wider with HOV lanes, it becomes possible to put the buses on the road relatively easily.
NDP leader John Horgan announced the expansion of Highway One as far as 264th Street last year, and work is expected to get underway now that the 216th Street interchange is complete.
This is the second time in less than a week that one of the major parties has promised major transportation infrastructure for Langley, following Horgan’s pledge last week to fund the SkyTrain extension all the way to Langley City from Surrey.