Editorial — 16 Avenue problems are escalating

16 Avenue is not recognized for what it has become — the major route between Abbotsford and South Langley, South Surrey and Highway 99.

Letter writer Teresa Townsley contacted The Times by e-mail and Facebook last week, in regards to ongoing traffic issues on 16 Avenue — the scene of at least two serious crashes last week.

As her letter was prepared for publication on Monday, word came in of another crash on 16 Avenue near 216 Street, involving multiple vehicles. Details were unavailable from Langley RCMP at press time.

It is obvious that there are serious and ongoing problems along 16 Avenue. These problems were exacerbated by a foolish Township decision some years ago to put speed bumps on 0 Avenue. All this did was force even more vehicles onto 16 Avenue, and increase the likelihood of crashes and road closures.

In a regional context, 16 Avenue is not recognized for what it has become — the major route between many parts of Abbotsford (including the Abbotsford Airport) and South Langley, South Surrey, White Rock, Highway 99 and the U.S. border.

Thus it shouldn’t be left solely to Langley Township to deal with all the challenges the road presents. But in effect that has happened. While the Township has made some improvements, notably installing flashing lights at all major intersections, there is much more to do.

One of the problems is truck drivers. Too many of the crashes involve large trucks — often gravel trucks. While the vast majority of truck drivers are responsible drivers, a significant number are not. They go far too fast along the street and their actions have led to several serious crashes, including a fatal one in January, 2011.

The speed limit is also a problem. Almost no one drives at 60 kilometres per hour along what is, at least in part, an arterial highway. The speed limit should be raised to at least 70 km/h. While enforcement of the speed limit takes place on occasion, it is usually futile, as gravel truck operators radio each other and very few vehicles then speed.

The intersection of 248 Street and 16 Avenue needs serious attention. The four-way stop, while helpful to residents living north and south of 16 Avenue, brings the flow of traffic to a stop and sheer volume means there are lengthy lineups every work day.

A light or a traffic circle, along with improved sightlines, are needed there.

It is past due time that the road is recognized as an arterial and necessary improvements are made. Citizens need to make this clear to the Township, TransLink and Victoria.