Traffic piling up on road to Silver Valley suburb

232nd Street Maple Ridge’s major project of the year

Traffic backs up in one of the traffic circles on 232nd Street in Maple Ridge Wednesday morning. (THE NEWS)

Any time you try to improve something, there will be construction disruption, as is the case downtown on Lougheed Highway and towards Silver Valley on 232nd Street.

Both are examples of short-term pain versus long-term gain, says City of Maple Ridge engineer Dave Pollock.

The latter has been the city’s major road project for most of the year and involved a total shut down of the main route to Silver Valley suburbs during the summer, while in recent months, the road has reopened, subject to construction activity.

But since the weather’s turned, there’s been rush-hour lineups on 232nd Street as vehicles try to exit the suburb, with many of them trying to drop off kids at Yennadon elementary.

One commenter on Facebook noted that the new roundabouts on 232nd Street are treacherous for pedestrians.

Julie Mikes said one of the roundabouts has been months in construction, requiring her to walk on the road in order to cross the roundabout.

“Does anyone know when this reno will be wrapping up or, at least, opening the right side of the bridge to cross?” Mikes asked.

Pollock acknowledges that road work can bog down traffic.

“It’s a challenge to maintain full throughput in traffic while still working in an existing roadway,” he said.

Pollock added that he hasn’t had any complaints, so far, of construction congestion on 232nd Street.

The project involves rebuilding the two-lane road, with the addition of a bike lane southbound (downhill) and a multi-use path northbound.

Sidewalks are also on both sides, along with new lights and landscaping.

Total cost for the project is $8.6 million, with $5.7 million of that paid by developers through development cost charges.

Initially, several years ago, 232nd Street was identified as four-lane roadway, but area residents were opposed to widening to four lanes and losing frontage.

Later, the city’s transportation master plan, from 2014, projected that two lanes would be sufficient to handle expected future traffic volumes.

“We did look at it from a capacity perspective,” Pollock said.

“The reason we’re able to build the roadway now is because we moved to a two-lane cross section. But that was based on modelling that was done as part of the transportation master plan.”

The current construction equipment on the road is contributing to the traffic jams, he added.

“Whenever the road is fully complete, it’s expected we won’t see that congestion issue.”

Then, Pollock said, there will be marked crosswalks at the traffic circles.

The road has several engineering challenges, according to a city report. Retaining walls are required along some of the 32 properties, along with reconstruction of some of the driveways to the residences that line the road.

Part of the cost of the bike lane will be paid for by a TransLink cycling grant of $251,000. If the city also applied for another grant application, which could have dropped the cost of the project by another $879,000.

Pollock said the first layer of pavement for the new road should be in by the end of this year, with the project finished off in 2019.

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