(Left) Jeff Busby, Surrey Langley SkyTrain project director spoke with residents to hear their questions and concerns at TransLink’s open house at Langley City Hall. (Langley Advance Times files)

Year in Review: New buses, new roads, but SkyTrain plans still in limbo in 2019

Highways are widening to the east

Transportation news around Langley in 2019 was about what was underway, what was announced, and what hung in the balance.

• Underway

The most visible project in Langley transportation was the 216th Street overpass. Although long planned as the next crossing of the Trans Canada Highway, it was highly controversial before and during its actual construction with residents in nearby Walnut Grove.

Expected to be open by late this fall, it was announced in the summer that cars won’t be able to cross the new span until late in 2020.

The delay is due to extra changes, including HOV lanes on the Trans Canada, that were added to link up with the lane widening planned for the highway out to 264th Street.

The additional work also increased the project’s budget from $59 million to $61.9 million.

Langley also saw more buses on several routes, resulting in increased frequency of service on Fraser Highway for routes such as the 502 from Surrey Central Station to Langley Centre.

• Announced

We got a brief preview of double decker buses in Langley as they were tested on routes, including the 555 express service from the Carvolth park and ride last year. But as more double deckers are added, they’re expected to return for good in early 2020.

In April, Premier John Horgan came out to Langley to announce a major change to the Trans Canada, which is to be widened to six lanes as far east as the 264th Street interchange.

The project will cost $235.5 million and will be jointly funded by the federal, provincial and Township governments. Work is expected to start in 2021 and be completed in 2025, and both the 232nd Street and 264th Street interchanges are expected to be upgraded as part of the project.

Langley residents also got a better look at plans for the SkyTrain line down Fraser Highway, which will, when complete, include three stations in Langley and a terminus near 203rd Street and Fraser.

However, there is still no guarantee that the line will be funded as far as Langley…

• Hanging in the balance

There is only enough funding, about $1.6 billion, to build the line out to Fleetwood in Surrey. A total of about $3.12 billion is needed to complete the line through the rest of Surrey and into Langley, and that’s only if construction starts relatively soon – before inflation raises costs further.

Local mayors pushed hard for federal candidates and parties to declare their support of the plan during the Cure Congestion campaign, which ran through much of the year. Local MPs all signed on – but it remains unclear if the minority Liberal government in Ottawa will allocate the $375 million in annual funding the TransLink Mayors’ Council is asking for.

Beyond those issues, Metro Vancouver narrowly avoided a transit strike with a last-minute deal struck in November, ending a 26-day partial job action.

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