Plans are a ways down the road to improve Fern Crescent. (THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge’s magical Fern Crescent plans on the back burner

Work won’t even start till 2020, public consulted

The trees won’t be falling around Fern Crescent for awhile, if at all, according to the city.

Plans for improving the road from 232nd to 236th street haven’t been drawn up yet and likely won’t be complete until late this year. And even then, any actual work on the road won’t start until 2020 or 2021.

The City of Maple Ridge wants to improve cycling and pedestrian paths in that area, re-align some curves and redo the intersection at Fern Crescent and 236th Street.

When it comes to re-aligning the road, that can be done in different ways and doesn’t entail a wholesale straightening of the road, said city engineer Dave Pollock.

The project raised concern among area residents who want to preserve the scenic road which led to a rally in October called, “Tell City Hall No to Tree removal and No to straightening Fern Cres,” hosted by Peter Tam, a former Green party candidate who lives in the area.

The roadway has seen significant increases in traffic volumes as Golden Ears Provincial Park has become the most-visited provincial park in B.C. More than 600,000 people visit the park annually.

“We’ll be working with the residents, with the public, all the way through it,” Pollock said. “We will be moving forward, but in a timely and comprehensive fashion.”

Pollock said the city has other urgent priorities this year, such as rebuilding 232nd Street from 132nd Avenue up to Silver Valley Road. That will entail sidewalks and cycling paths, new lighting and a new road for the growing suburb.

“We want to get that project done,” said Pollock.

Completing the rebuild of Lougheed Highway in the downtown, between 224th and 226th streets, is also in the work plan.

The city also wants to start designing the widening to four lanes of Abernethy Way/128th Avenue from 224th to 232nd streets. It also wants to start conceptual designs for extending Abernethy from 232nd to 256th street to allow a second access to the city’s industrial area.

Part of that will include designing a second crossing of the South Alouette River along 240th Street. That street has been identified as the preferred long-term second access to Silver Valley as well as Fern Crescent leading to Golden Ears Provincial Park.

However, that would require provincial money because the project would entail improving access to Golden Ears park, Pollock added.

Tam isn’t as concerned now about the fate of Fern Crescent.

“Nothing is concrete according to the city. There are no plans now. There’s nothing to oppose at the moment.” Tam also spoke to Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare, who’s also tourism minister, who told him there is no provincial money for 240th Street improvements.

TransLink has promised $609,000 for Fern Crescent improvements, including road realignment and construction of a new wide multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists, and intersection improvements at 236th Street.

Tam said many people have a sentimental attachment to the twist-turny road surrounded by tall trees. “Everyone treasures that Cathedral Grove area.”

Fern Crescent passes Maple Ridge Park, Cross’s Cabin Park and ultimately becomes the Golden Ears Parkway.

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