(Contributed)                                An aerial view of Pitt Meadows showing the CP Rail Intermodal Yard.

(Contributed) An aerial view of Pitt Meadows showing the CP Rail Intermodal Yard.

Strong support for Pitt Meadows transportation projects

Overpass/underpass projects get majority support

Pitt Meadows council has heard from the public about major transportation infrastructure projects being planned and proposed, and there is strong support.

The Engagement Summary Report – The Future of Transportation in Pitt Meadows was presented by Chris Chok of Kirk and Co., offering highlights of community feedback obtained via results of the engagement process hosted by the city from June 18 to July 31.

The city brought together a variety of stakeholders who play a role in transportation planning “to identify how these initiatives could affect how people move around in Pitt Meadows in the future,” said the report.

Topics were:

• TransLink’s new B-Line bus service which is coming in 2019, and development of the area transport plan for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows;

• Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and looking at Harris Road underpass and Kennedy Road overpass;

• Transportation Ministry improvements to Lougheed Highway;

• The City of Pitt Meadows planning for potential future road connections including the North Lougheed Connector, the Kennedy-McTavish Connector and the Allen Way-McTavish connector.

The project objectives for the Kennedy Road Overpass and Harris Road Underpass projects received strong support, with 82 per cent agreeing these projects will improve response times for emergency services and increase reliability for commuters, transit users and commercial drivers.

However, there were concerns about noise, vibrations, train length, environment impact, proximity to homes and potential expansion, raised by 40 out of 104 responses about the projects.

Beautification of the Harris Road underpass was a concern, with suggestions for First Nation artwork and landscaping, as well as the need for pedestrian and cycling facilities.

Respondents also advised the city engage “early and often” with the Pitt Meadows Heritage Society about the museum and general store building, which will have to be moved away from Harris Road.

The feedback for the entire study came from 424 participant interactions, including 206 feedback forms, 162 people attending a public open house, 33 at a small group meeting and other communications.

There was also strong support for more highway interchanges.

There were concerns about Highway 7 and request for improvements at the intersection with Harris Road, with 65 per cent of respondents saying they travel the highway five or more times per week. Improving safety to reduce collisions at intersections was the priority for a majority, and 59 per cent said it is a high priority to construct interchanges at key intersections.

Residents also favoured the city continuing to pursue the North Lougheed Connector, which provides an east-west route north of the Lougheed highway, running from Golden Ears Way to Harris Road. There were 46 per cent who strongly agree, and another 26 per cent who agree with council building that road – while only 13 per cent disagree.

“I think the feedback by our citizens is both very insightful, well informed and helpful,” said Dingwall. “Thank you to the 400-or-so who contributed.”

The feedback will be given to the organizations involved to consider. Representatives from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, CP Rail, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and TransLink were in the audience.

Coun. Bob Meachen called the report “a good background on what the community really thinks.”

Coun. Tracy Miyashita was disappointed with the level of engagement and asked staff if there was an opportunity to get more.

“This is a big deal – a train overpass and everything we are talking about here,” said Miyashita.

CAO Mark Roberts said staff will look for more opportunities to engage the public, but said there had been a concerted effort.

“We pulled out a lot of stops on this one, to try to get the community out and engaged,” said Roberts.

Of the respondents, 85 per cent use car or truck, five per cent West Coast Express, four per cent bus, three per cent cycle and two per cent walk.