(THE NEWS/files)                                Haney bypass and Lougheed Highway intersection is being improved.

(THE NEWS/files) Haney bypass and Lougheed Highway intersection is being improved.

Rearview: It’s going to be an easier Maple Ridge commute

Busy intersections set for upgrade

Maple Ridge didn’t get what it wanted, a new intersection at Lougheed Highway and 222nd Street that would provide a double right-hand turn to funnel thousands of eastbound vehicles from Lougheed Highway on to the Haney Bypass.

It just wasn’t possible under the current traffic model because it would have meant no room for left-turn lanes off Lougheed Highway, while southbound vehicles on 222nd Street would have had to stop to allow those right turns, explained City of Maple Ridge engineer Dave Pollock.

The final design for the upgrade of the intersection was announced by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in the fall. Construction starts this spring, and once complete, the busy corner is going to stay that way for a long time.

“If you were to look at putting two lanes in the future, it may eliminate a left turn at 222nd Street. The performance of a single [right-turn] lane will certainly be adequate, well into the future,” Pollock said recently.

“It’s going to be certainly in the longer term,” when a double-right-hand turn is reconsidered, he added.

One day, the traffic volume for the whole area could warrant another re-do of the intersection, but that’s not imminent, Pollock explained.

And while Maple Ridge motorists didn’t get a double right-turn lane, they did gain an extra lane southbound on the Haney Bypass from Lougheed Highway to just before River Road.

Currently, the right lane ends with a right turn at Callaghan Avenue. After the renovations, the two lanes will continue past that before merging back into one lane, then merging with River Road.

Mayor Mike Morden had wanted four lanes for the length of the bypass, but that won’t happen until the second stage of improvements for the bypass, which calls for widening to four lanes.

“You can see how that’s preparation for Phase 2,” he said.

Motorists, though, will see one other benefit from the redesign. Presently, there’s only one left-turn only lane northbound from Haney Bypass on to Lougheed Highway.

After renovations, there will be two dedicated left-turn lanes, with a new lane for right turns, on to Lougheed, or for driving straight north on 222nd Street.

Perhaps more importantly, an additional, left-turn-only lane at Kanaka Way will speed more westbound traffic from Lougheed Highway on to the Haney Bypass. Other improvements include installing a traffic light at Callaghan Avenue, which was the site of a traffic fatality a few years ago.

As well, there will be improved lighting and a multi-use pathway on the north side Lougheed from 222nd Street to 220th Street.

Cost for all of the above projects ring in at $22 million.

The city previously had expected a more extensive upgrade of the bypass intersection at 222nd Street, which would have involved the purchase and demolition of the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries building at that corner.

The ministry said in November that the Haney Bypass and Kanaka Way improvement project was advertised for tender on B.C. Bid last November, with work expected to begin in spring 2019, taking about a year to complete.

The project is part of a $70-million federal and provincial government initiative that will make improvements to Lougheed Highway from Pitt Meadows to Mission.