The mayors’ regional plan for transit improvements was put into a state of suspended animation last May, when voters rejected a sales tax hike that would have paid for it.
Part of the plan, though, is still being talked about – the much-discussed, long-awaited express bus service between Maple Ridge and the new SkyTrain line in Coquitlam, which opens in 2017.
Coun. Gordy Robson says the project is again being discussed by City of Maple Ridge staff and TransLink.
“I think they realize it won’t take any more equipment,” said Robson.
It’s just a matter of making the existing bus routes more direct, allowing an express service, with limited stops, to connect Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to the new rapid transit line.
Maple Ridge council, in the fall, looked at how to implement its new Strategic Transportation Plan, passed in 2014.
The plan sets out general goals over two decades for roads, transit, cyclists and pedestrians.
Top of the list is continuing to extend another four-lane east-west traffic artery.
The widening to four lanes of 128th Avenue, from 210th to 216 streets, is almost complete, with work starting next year on the stretch from 216th to 224th streets.
But extending those four lanes farther east, to 240th Street, remains the long-term goal.
“The emphasis on Abernethy is increasing dramatically because of our need for industrial land,” Robson said.
Having another four-lane east-west road, at least connecting to 240th Street, would improve access to the city’s industrial area at the north end of 256th Street.
Robson said he’d like to see 128th Avenue extended to 240th Street within the current council’s term, in the next three years, adding some of the right of way is already in place.
Other roads are slated for major expansion over the next 20 years.
Widening Dewdney Trunk Road to four lanes between 240th and 248th streets is one of the projects. That will extend the second major east-west artery in the city, also bringing it closer to Maple Ridge’s industrial area.
As well, 232nd Street should be four-laned from Abernethy Way, north to 132nd Avenue.
Those are all local projects, however.
The city continues to press for the province to do its part by widening the Haney Bypass to four lanes for the entire bypass, as well as widening the Lougheed Highway east of 272nd Street.
Improving the Haney Bypass is “definitely a priority. We’ve had such a tragic number of deaths on that strip of road. So absolutely that would be the main focus to keep working on that with the province,” said Coun. Corisa Bell.
She added that the city is looking for opportunities to partner with the senior governments for any funds that become available.
Council could be in a position to press the province for that because a housing and condo project proposed for nearby Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure lands requires council’s approval and, so far, has only received first reading.
Maple Ridge’s transportation plan also proposes building some kind of connector to the Albion Industrial Area, possibly an overpass; as well as a “Thornhill Connector” that would join that area east of 248th Street, to the Lougheed Highway.
One way to do that would be to extend Jackson Road south to Lougheed Hwy.
Creating another east-west road, between 252nd and 268th streets, along the slope of Grant’s Hill, connecting with 112th Avenue and Kanaka Way, and building a new route to 272nd Street, is also on the wish list.
All told, the road network plan, over 20 years, would ring in at $150 million.
When it comes to public transit, the city is not giving up on seeking a West Coast Express stop in the Albion area, a project that’s low on TransLink’s priority list.
Bells hears from people all the time that they would use a midday daytime train into Vancouver.
“How can we get to … making that a reality so we can get cars off the road, commuters at home with their families?” instead of spending three hours a day in their cars, Bell said.
“We need to be having those conversations and to be sure we’re setting our families up for success.”
Bell said TransLink needs to be held accountable for its promises and that if the West Coast Express is at capacity now, “that should be a trigger for more service.”
Better transit connections and installing traffic-jumping lanes and signals to speed buses along and decrease travel time are also envisioned in the transit strategy which is estimated to cost a million dollars over the two decades.
Improvements planned for pedestrians and cyclists ring in at less than a 10th of the road plan for a total of about $14 million.
As far as two-wheeled transportation goes, off-street bike paths are proposed for Lougheed Highway, west of Laity Street; and along 132nd Avenue, from 216th to 232nd streets.
More bikeways, which use quiet, residential roads, are also included, while traditional cycling lanes, identified with lane markings, are planned for 124th Avenue, Kanaka Way and 207th and 232nd streets.
Pedestrians should also find it a little easier, over the next 20 years, by improving walk-ways by adding lights and street furniture along Lougheed Highway, Dewdney Trunk Road, 222nd and 226th streets, 119th Avenue, Edge Street and Selkirk Avenue.