Keeping our community safe

Editor, The News:

Re: Lougheed Highway gets a new coat (The News, Oct. 12).

As I read articles regarding the $2.5 million dollar contract to smooth the asphalt on the Haney Bypass, I felt a familiar sinking feeling – $2.5 million, and what improvement will we get?

A wider shoulder, ahem, “bike lane”?

Maple Ridge is no longer a small town. Safe access for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as vehicle users must be a major consideration in Maple Ridge’s design practises and business plans.  It should be protocol in our strategic planning, a given in every five-year civic business plan, built in to the overall long-term goals for maintaining livability, sustainable growth and reduction of the carbon footprint of Maple Ridge.

Providing the basics, safe access for pedestrians and cyclists, definitely take priority over making driving more easy and comfortable.

Along the Haney Bypass corridor, the district planned densely populated communities that elegantly triangulate with the West Coast Express, Port Haney  area, the downtown core and Kanaka Creek Regional Park.

Unfortunately, the Haney Bypass acts as a barrier for pedestrians and cyclists wishing to use these excellent amenities.

The numerous fatalities on this road, sadly, prove it.

In the case of the Haney By-pass, sidewalks, crosswalks and a peak-hour intersection at Callaghan Avenue need to be incorporated into the design.

The construction of the Haney Bypass, West Coast Express station, Golden Ears Bridge and the Abernethy Connector have brought extremely heavy traffic levels onto local roads that were not built and cannot safely handle this pressure.

Residents of 132 Avenue, Shady Lane and River Road are all justifiably afraid to venture past their front doors because of increasing traffic that has reached intolerable limits on their little, local roads.

(Sadly, again, fatalities have proved that point.)

Thank goodness the municipality employs highly paid traffic and community project engineers. We should expect more than rhetoric from them when these issues are brought to their attention year after year after decade.

It would be reassuring to see evidence of their expertise with endeavours of forward-thinking design in this, and other pieces of vital community infrastructure.

Whether it is $2.5 million or $25 million, it is time for holistic solutions to be incorporated into infrastructure so the benefits will be relevant to the community.

People need to be able to access their own neighbours and community without it being a suicidal attempt.

That being said, after attending a recent council workshop, I am hopeful that our some of our local politicians will be all over this $2.5 million opportunity as a part of a larger initiative: keeping our small, quaint inner communities safe in the midst of the growing infrastructure.

This is an absolute necessity in any community that wants to maintain an acceptable level of livability.

So, as a taxpayer, I say: “Here is $2.5 million. Make the most of it.”

J.D. Anderson

Maple Ridge