Mapler Ridge transportation plan gets final approval

Priorities include widening 128th Avenue to 240th Street, widening of 128th Avenue

Council gave its final blessing last week to its transportation plan  that will guide where Maple Ridge’s bridges, roads, and bike lanes go for the next 20 years.

After studying the plan for two years, council unanimously approved the plan at its second-last regular meeting before the Nov. 15 election.

Some of the priorities in the plan include completing key roads that will stitch the community together, such as widening of 128th Avenue and Abernethy Way to four lanes between 210th and 240th streets. Work on the section between 210th and 224th streets starts next year.

Widening Hwy. 7 to four lanes on Maple Ridge’s eastern boundaries, as well as the Haney Bypass are noted as important for the region, while traffic calming should be done in neighbourhoods.

For Silver Valley residents, widening of 232nd Street from Abernethy Way to 132nd Avenue is included, while Dewdney Trunk Road from 240th to 248th Streets will be widened to four lanes.

A 240th Street bridge over the South Alouette River remains a long-term goal.

Also in the plan is the extension of 128th Avenue eastward to connect with Fern Crescent and create a more direct route to Golden Ears Provincial Park. Work schedule for that recently was accelerated as part of a requirement for developer who wants to build 34 homes in the Fern Crescent area.

Cycling and walking are also part of the plan. Goals are to improve street scapes in the downtown, to encourage walking, safer crossings for pedestrians, as well as building sidewalks in older areas that don’t have them.

Bike lanes are proposed for 124th Avenue, 207th and 232nd streets and Kanaka Way.

When it comes to transit in Maple Ridge, “at least” a B-line connection to the new Evergreen Line in Coquitlam is on the wish list, as are better bus shelters.

“I would anticipate that we would be getting that direct connector into the Evergreen. It’s an absolute no-brainer in my world,” said Coun. Mike Morden.

But a lot of work is needed to get TransLink and the province’s support, he said.

“No bus in Silver Valley is unacceptable.”

Service to that area though, as well as possible B-line or Rapid Bus service to Coquitlam, is included in the mayor’s vision for transportation in Metro Vancouver, passed earlier this year, although it’s unclear if Langley instead will get such a service instead of Maple Ridge.

The West Coast Express commuter rail service also should expand, to include midday and weekend service instead of only the current five rush-hour trains and to allow people to travel eastward from Vancouver to Maple Ridge during midday and on weekends, according to a summary of the strategy.

But that needs more track time to provided by CP Rail, said Morden.

That also needs to be addressed in what Morden is calling a senior government advocacy plan. “The railways are federal and we need to apply some polite leverage there to say we need our needs met here.”

A new West Coast stop in the Albion area near 240th Street is another goal of the plan.

Mayoralty race rival Graham Mowatt has no hope in an expanded West Coast Express.

“I think that’s just politicking. It’s going to be extremely tough to get more track time from CP.” TransLink’s contract for track time with CP Rail expires in 2015.

With expanding port traffic in Metro Vancouver, the company won’t want to spare any more for commuter rail, he said.

Instead, Mowatt would rather rely on pushing for a light-rail connection between Maple Ridge and Coquitlam.

If the transportation plan is completed, its total cost would be $165 million. However, that doesn’t include environmental mitigation costs, while projects can also receive federal or provincial funding.

Council still has to hammer out an implementation plan.