Traffic along Lougheed Highway through Pitt Meadows won’t drop by much if a new road is built north of it.
A draft of the city’s transportation master plan estimates approximately six per cent of Lougheed Hwy. traffic would be diverted to the North Lougheed Connector – a proposed 3.6-kilometre road through farmland and stretching from Harris Road to Golden Ears Way.
“The connector will provide some congestion relief on Lougheed Highway between Harris Road and Golden Ears Way,” notes the study, but not much.
“It will take some of the load off, especially in the busy section between Harris Road and 207th Street,” said engineering service coordinator Ike De Boer, noting the connector will provide the most relief for traffic along Old Dewdney Trunk.
“That, for some people, is really important, as Old Dewdney is still an attractive route for people from north Maple Ridge.”
The Lougheed corridor, which is under provincial jurisdiction, accommodates the highest traffic volumes in Pitt Meadows, with up to 60,000 vehicles per day traveling the route.
As growth in neighbouring municipalities continues, the number of vehicles traveling through Pitt Meadows will increase, according to the master plan.
Currently, the highway intersections at Harris and Kennedy roads are operating at or near failing conditions during the peak hours, experiencing significant delays and bumper-to-bumper traffic during the morning and evening rush hours.
Key to relieving congestion along the highway is an interchange at Harris Rd., in addition to the connector, states the report.
To shift traffic off Old Dewdney, the city would have install calming measures along the route, such as stop signs.
De Boer said plans for the North Lougheed Connector currently sit with the mall developer SmartCentres. The company owns a swatch of land in the area and would pay for the road and possibly fund the traffic calming study.
For Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters, the transportation master plan gives the city a business case to present to the province and TransLink for the interchange and North Lougheed Connector.
“This actually shows the benefit it would have on the entire region for the movement of goods and services,” said Walters, noting the plan plots a course over the next 30 years.
“We can’t just think of today. We have to think long term and how it’s going to affect the region.”
The draft plan pegs the city’s share of the cost for constructing the North Lougheed Connector at $6.3 million, and $11.6 million for the interchange.
The city’s transportation plan recommends that Pitt Meadows prioritize the development of a traffic calming plan and suggests converting the current dual left-turn, east-bound lanes at the intersection of Old Dewdney Trunk and Lougheed Hwy. to a single lane or remove them completely.
Traffic calming is expected to costs around $500,000.
Even if the connector is built, traffic won’t be reduced along the entire length of Old Dewdney, a stretch which sees around 12,000 vehicles a day.
According to the master plan, the segment of Lougheed Hwy. between Harris and Old Dewdney is expected to see an increase of approximately 200 vehicles in each direction. That would be that result of traffic shifting to the interchange at Harris Rd. to access the North Lougheed Connector.
For Coun. Bruce Bell, figures in the draft plan present a case for not building the contentious connector.
“Now that we’ve finally got some figures, I have more questions,” he said.
The transportation plan also addresses transit, pedestrians and cyclists.