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Boggy land won’t cut SkyTrain line short before it reaches Langley: project leader

Township mayor had questions about getting line through ALR lowlands
A conceptual drawing of a Langley Skytrain station at 196th Street. (Government of B.C.)

There are no plans to shorten the length of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project if there are cost overruns, Langley Township council heard recently.

Jennifer MacLean, the executive director of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project, gave a presentation to the council on Monday, Feb. 13.

The new SkyTrain extension is expected to open in late 2028, with major construction on the 16-km, eight-station expansion set to begin in 2024.

When complete, there will be two stations in Langley. One, in the Township, at 196th Street and Fraser Highway at the Willowbrook Shopping Centre, and the other in Langley City, at Industrial Avenue and 203rd Street.

MacLean noted some of the reasons for the expansion, including the fact that the population of the Langley-Surrey area is expected to grow by about half a million people by 2050.

Council members had a number of questions for MacLean, including one from Mayor Eric Woodward about the difficult soil conditions the project would face in the low-lying areas in Surrey where the track will pass through the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Woodward said concerns have been raised about structural issues in the area, and whether that could cause cost overruns.

MacLean said they’re aware of the issues.

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“The ground conditions in the Agricultural Land Reserve are very poor,” she said.

Geotechnical work has already been done in the area, including sinking a test pile. When the SkyTrain line is built, piles for the guideway may have to go down 40 to 90 meters into the rich alluvial mud to find solid ground.

“I think we’ve done a good job of determining what the soils look like there,” MacLean said, adding that they were going in with “eyes open,” as were contractors.

Woodward asked if cost overruns could mean the line would but cut short, ending at 184th Street in Surrey.

“There’s no possibility that I’ve ever heard of,” said MacLean. “It’s never been contemplated to talk about cutting off the ends.”

She fielded several other questions, including one from Tim Baillie about access for disabled riders, and whether there will be sufficient elevators at all stations. Baillie felt two elevators per station would provide better access, especially in the case of a malfunction.

MacLean said there will be at least one elevator per station with two at some, and provisions for a second to be built in the future at some locations.

Coun. Steve Ferguson wondered where the next spur line off the Surrey-Langley route might go.

That would be up to TransLink and its Mayors’ Council, MacLean said. While the provincial government has taken over management of the project, deciding on new transit routes is up to TransLink, which operates bus and SkyTrain service in Metro Vancouver.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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