The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said – Peter Drucker.
This fall, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure will lay a concrete barrier down the middle of the Lougheed Highway, from 240th to 272nd streets.
Traffic crossing the midline kills people.
Flowers mark locations.
“As part of B.C. on the Move,” says minister Todd Stone, “we’re committed to making important safety and mobility upgrades throughout B.C.”
ICBC ranks the Lougheed Hwy. and Haney Bypass (both provincial jurisdiction) among B.C.’s 12 deadliest roadways.
What the ministry hasn’t revealed about this long-standing problem also deserves attention.
I commuted to Mission on the Lougheed for 26 years and witnessed accidents and near misses when cars passed at wrong times. Drivers hit soft shoulders and ended up in deep ditches – a fact not mentioned in the press release.
According to the Maple Ridge strategic transportation plan (2014), the upgrade from two to four lanes is long overdue.
There won’t be a push button light at 210th Street – my pet peeve – where Westview secondary kids dodge traffic en route to class, or more street lights from 207th to 222nd streets – watch for cyclists in dark clothing. Neither was mentioned.
The bypass should also be four lanes, according to the transportation plan.
That’s another no-brainer. A lot of traffic enters from 222nd St. Coming east from the Lougheed, you compete with vehicles shooting through. That means squeezing left into one through-lane. Often, there isn’t enough runway before you’re forced right onto 223rd Street inside a row of plastic dividers. To get back onto the highway, you’ve two choices. You can turn and re-approach the bypass – past fresh flowers laid at the base of a street lamp – or reconnect from River Road.
Turning left to town from 223rd means risking life and limb. There never seems a safe gap in traffic. If you’re headed for the Ceed Centre, crossing the bypass to Callahan Avenue is courting suicidal.
Continuing east from 223rd, you squeeze quickly into one lane passing 225th or 227th streets – intersections on the transportation plan’s Top 10 bad list. Good luck turning left against cars that can back up half a kilometre to the Haney Hotel.
Turning left isn’t any easier down the bypass. Still, last Sunday I saw an ‘open house’ sign encouraging people to try.
The transportation plan predicts even greater volume here.
The Lougheed at 232nd Street is infamous for fatalities. When you exit the bypass, you’re squeezed left by more plastic dividers. Merging is another crap shoot. I’ve turned right at River Road in frustration. You could have come back this way in the past and crossed to Kanaka Way. No longer. Today, a concrete barrier steers us towards 240th Street for our own good.
The plan predicts traffic will double in Maple Ridge within the next two decades. It’s identified highway locations that need attention now – several intersections – 203rd, 222nd and some on the bypass to 232nd.
This past week, I drove the highway and bypass to review what I’ve observed as problems. We need better lighting, four lanes on the bypass and beyond, maybe a round-about at 232nd to reduce backups. Driving west from 240th, you can’t fit into the left turn lane to the bypass anymore.
Improvements weren’t promised at the truck stop two weeks ago, when MLA Marc Dalton announced the concrete barrier plan past 240th.
Prior to the election in 2017, expect billboards from 240th heralding “B.C. on the Move.”
But more lives will be lost if other areas aren’t fixed.
– Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.