Hwy. 1 widening a top priority, says Fassbender

Airport access, 16 Avenue, 216 interchange among topics covered by Chamber transportation panel


Two of Langley’s most talked about roadways — a proposed interchange for 216 Street and the problematic 16 Avenue —  were discussed by a panel assembled by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce on May 17.

“The north/south and the east/west have to be integrated,” said MLA Peter Fassbender, who also serves as the minister responsible for TransLink.

Fassbender was joined on the panel by Louise Yako, president and CEO of the BC Trucking Association and Kevin Desmond, the new CEO of TransLink.

Fassbender said his government’s priority for transportation infrastructure in the region is widening Highway 1 as far east as Abbotsford, and its airport.

He called 216 Street “A major choke point going both ways in the day,” adding it has to be dealt with.

He said facilitating better traffic flow out to Abbotsford Airport is important as it serves an “economic driver” for the region.

The other local thoroughfare discussed was 16 Avenue, which Yako said needs to be expanded to four lanes.

She said it is the only east to west connection that is available for trucking oversized cargo and that it needs to be improved to continue to attract business to Vancouver’s port.

Because it is designated as a major trucking route, 16 Avenue is overseen by TransLink.

Desmond, who has only been in charge of the transit authority since March 21, admitted he was not intimately familiar with 16 Avenue.

“I’m mostly reading from notes on this one,” he said.

“It is one of the things that I will ultimately be digging into… 16th is part of the major road networks. It is one of TransLink’s major responsibilities,” said Desmond.

Fassbender said he recognizes 16 Avenue as an important road, but the best strategy for its improvement is not clear.

He said that he has heard people suggest installing traffic lights would improve safety.

“But I’m not sure that that’s the case,” he said. “There are people who are advocating for speed bumps and I’ve seen where they are a disaster because they become more of an impediment.”

He suggested that more study was needed to find a solution.

The retiring executive director of the Langley chamber, Lynn Whitehouse, stood up at the end of the panel and shared her opinion on the solution to the problems on 16 Avenue.

“The Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce actually has an official opinion concerning 16 Avenue and… the ultimate answer is to address the concerns with the private driveways that back onto 16 Avenue — [the answer] is to endorse that there is a safe roadway for a lot of traffic that goes there and the ultimate goal would be for frontage road to be built so that we’re not putting a traffic signal at every intersection, which unfortunately does not often lead to more safety but more accidents,” she said.