Maple Ridge council: Late night discount for truckers

Briefs from the District of Maple Ridge council meeting

Truckers will find it cheaper to cross the new Port Mann Bridge if they do during off hours, Gateway Program executive Mike Proudfoot told Maple Ridge council Monday.

A variable toll system will give the big rigs a 50-per-cent discount non rush-hour trips when the 10-lane bridge opens in 2013.

Proudfoot was reviewing the highlights of the Gateway Program, which includes several major projects, the North and South Fraser Perimeter Roads, the Port Mann and Pitt River bridges.

As an added incentive to car pool, registered vehicles with more than one person using the HOV lanes will get a 25-per-cent discount, which, it’s hoped, encourages more car pools and reduces congestion on Highway 1 from Langley into Vancouver.

Once the new bridge opens, buses from Langley will also be able to cross the Fraser River for the first time in 20 years.

“This is the largest transportation construction project in the province’s history,” Proudfoot said.

The Port Mann Bridge is the second-largest cable-stayed bridge in North America,  he added.

Despite discussion about using the old Port Mann Bridge as a park or gardens as some old bridges have been used in other cities, as soon as the new bridge opens, the old Port Mann Bridge will be dismantled, Proudfoot said.

Council heard that 30 per cent of the traffic that uses the Port Mann does so from Surrey to Coquitlam.

With the new South Fraser Perimeter Road connecting Tsawwassen with Surrey, the transportation ministry says that motorists seeking a toll-free route are unlikely to divert to Mission Bridge and create extra congestion on Lougheed Highway.

Coun. Linda King said the project allocated a “stunning amount” of money and land to the automobile.


New Christmas tree

There’s a new tree to gather under at Christmas, now that a big sequoia evergreen tree has been planted in Memorial Peace Park, near 224th Street.

The addition is part of the reconstruction of the empty lot adjoining the park that the district just completed with left-over federal and provincial dollars that had been allotted for the 224th Street rebuild.

The tree was recently planted as part of the work and is named the Peace Tree.


Golden Spoke

Council’s representative on the bicycle advisory committee has received the Golden Spoke award from cyclists for her help.

Coun. Linda King was given the recognition at Tuesday’s meeting.

Her experience helped the committee convey its goals to council and staff. “She’s just got a really good way of summarizing it. She attends all the meetings.”

Following a study, the bike advisory committee recently discussed a new dedicated bike path along Lougheed Highway between 216th and Laity streets. The two-lane path would run on the north side of the highway and bridge an east-west gap in the cycling network.

Funding for the project has not been approved yet.


Talk with Hydro

Council last week passed a resolution calling for discussions with B.C. Hydro about the dam and seeking more information about Stave Lake, and the possible effects of Abbotsford using the lake as a drinking water source.

Alouette reservoir feeds into Stave Lake, thus connecting the two water bodies. The Alouette River Management Society says a fishway would bridge the gap as it tries to rebuild the sockeye salmon run in the river. A fishway alongside the Alouette Dam would allow all species of salmon and trout direct access to the lake, which would help with fish restoration.

Hydro, though, has said the fishway and the dam restoration are two separate projects.

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