We’ve all experienced the frustration of being stuck in a traffic jam, wedged in a queue of honking vehicles blocking the way between you and your target destination. But for those who are often stuck in the Golden Ears Bridge traffic at rush hour, there is light at the end of the bridge.
Newly elected Mayor Mike Morden wants TransLink to four-lane Golden Ears Way from when it exits the Golden Ears Bridge at Lougheed Highway up to 203rd Street. The current two-lane, new road, is just creating bottlenecks.
No one likes traffic. People also dislike congestion and gridlock. Congestion makes people late to work. It causes stresses before you even get there. Deliveries can’t arrive on time. All that gas costs money.
The effects of routine exposure to traffic jamming on mood, psychology, blood pressure and task performance of car drivers are numerous. And traffic jamming is seen by many as a major environmental stressor that hinders our movement between two or more destinations.
But how often has this been detrimental to local businesses?
Businesses located at the end of the off-ramp from the bridge into Maple Meadows Business Park have seen traffic has increased by three or four times over the past five years. Vehicles sometimes even get stalled on the bridge when the roundabout at Golden Ears Way and 113B Avenue gets jammed, much worse now since the bridge tolls came off.
Traffic is particularly bad between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
In the initial plan, the road through the business park was never intended to be the main access point to Maple Ridge off the Golden Ears Bridge.
But the growth in traffic through the business park is likely linked to growing congestion on the exit points farther north on Maple Meadows Way and Golden Ears Way. Studies have shown the main reason for this volume increase on 113B Avenue is an increase in congestion on the Lougheed Highway, and on Golden Ears Way east to 210th Street.
Widening of Golden Ears Way to four lanes from Lougheed Highway to 210th Street could help. The road could be expanded to four lanes within the existing right of way.
When the bridge was constructed in 2009, Lougheed Highway and Maple Meadows Way were intended to be the main exit points.
According to TransLink stats, monthly traffic volume has increased since the tolls were removed.
In September 2016, a total of 1,155,300 vehicles crossed the tolled bridge.
In September 2017, that number had jumped to 1,464,200 – an increase of 27 per cent.
In October 2017, the Golden Ears Bridge saw an increase to 1,522,000 crossings, compared to 1,140,600 in October 2016. That’s an increase of 33 per cent.
Traffic dropped slightly for the two following months, when 1,467,000 vehicles crossed in November, although that was still a 31-per-cent increase from the previous November, while 1,357,400 vehicles crossed in December.
Yet traffic’s relationship to the economy of whole metro regions is much more complicated, so much so that researchers haven’t entirely explained it.
A staff report notes the 128th Avenue-Abernethy Way corridor is one of only three east-west corridors in Maple Ridge.
The road recently has been widened to four lanes from 210th to 224th street, while four-laning of the road from 224th to 232nd Street is in the design stage with construction already in the city’s budget.
Another proposed widening project, the extension of 256th East from Webster’s Corners is still in the planning stages. The cost of the project is a hotly debated issue and it may be a few years before any movement is made on this section.