Pat O'Connor was surprised to learn preliminary planning work has begun on an interchange that would connect Highway 99 to 16 Ave. One ramp of the proposed exchange would run behind the row of hedges in her back yard.

Pat O'Connor was surprised to learn preliminary planning work has begun on an interchange that would connect Highway 99 to 16 Ave. One ramp of the proposed exchange would run behind the row of hedges in her back yard.

Ministry moves on 16 Avenue on-ramp

Highway 99 interchange in design stage, as 24 Avenue junction remains on backburner

Preliminary work on one of two long-discussed highway interchanges in South Surrey is underway.

While the design process that will produce a four-way interchange at Highway 99 and 16 Avenue has begun, a long-sought-after exchange linking 24 Avenue to the highway remains on the backburner.

The 16 Avenue plan was revealed in a letter delivered last week to residents of the Cherry Brook mobile home park at 16 Avenue and 162 Street.

“The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the City of Surrey are pleased to announce that they will be jointly funding a new interchange at Highway 99 and 16th Avenue,” said the message dated Sept. 14 and signed by Jay Porter, senior project manager with the provincial ministry.

“The project will provide improved access to Highway 99 and the community of South Surrey/White Rock and includes on and off ramps in all four quadrants of the intersection.”

Porter adds that the project is currently at “the preliminary design stage” and promised there will be consultation with affected residents.

The letter came with a map showing the southbound off-ramp running behind the mobile home park.

It was a surprise to Cherry Brook resident Pat O’Connor, whose backyard will border the off-ramp.

“I’m a bit concerned it will devalue the property,” O’Connor said. “Can you imagine the traffic on 16th? It’s going to be awful.”

Coun. Tom Gill – the chair of Surrey’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – confirmed Monday that the province, city and TransLink have agreed to jointly fund the $2-million design work. But he also said  a deal on cost-sharing the construction hasn’t been negotiated.

Gill estimated that cost at $24 million, but said the actual amount will not be known until the detailed design is complete and contractor bids received.

Gill said the provincial government has just appointed R.F. Binnie and Associates Ltd. to carry out the design of what he described as a “tight diamond interchange.”

The plans should be ready by mid-December, he said.

Gill said the movement on the interchange is a response to the “growing regional commuter demand from South Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford,” in particular the congestion on 32 Avenue at the 32 Avenue interchange that was built in 1999.

However, no equivalent planning agreement has been reached for the 24 Avenue crossing over Highway 99 – another South Surrey site that has been earmarked for an interchange for several years, and which now is home to Grandview Corners and Morgan Crossing.

“Ideally, we’d want both 16th and 24th (exchanges to proceed at the same time),” Gill said, “but I don’t think (the ministry) will fund both.”

Surrey transport planning manager Philip Bellefontaine said the deal to cost-share design work was the product of “quite recent” talks between Surrey and ministry staff.

Bellefontaine said 16 Avenue has been identified as a “strategic connection” that has value to the city because it will reduce congestion on 32 Avenue.

The city planner stressed that a final agreement on who will pay how much to build the interchange hasn’t been reached.

That deal will probably not be done until after the design is completed, he said.

“We (the city) have said we will support funding, but we don’t have a project to fund yet.”