Editorial — Overpass inadequacy

The repairs to the 200 Street overpass that took place over the past week are yet another sad reminder of the complete inadequacy of the overpass, and things will only get worse as Langley grows and Highway 1 is expanded.

Replacement of the two-lane overpass was a long-running soap opera in the late 1990s and early 2000s. When the design of the new overpass was announced, the Township council of the day was horrified, as council members rightly envisioned gridlock as the result of numerous traffic lights.

The overpass design was wholly based on financing it through selling off prime portions of land that were adjacent to the old overpass. That required what was called a “single point” interchange, with traffic lights in the midst of the span.

It is important to note that this idea emanated from the NDP provincial government of the day — not from the local council or the community. Despite a number of workable alternatives that were presented, the new BC Liberal government stuck with the proposal, at least partially because a contract had already been signed.

Thankfully, the overpass was built to six lanes, as the prospect of the Golden Ears Bridge was on the horizon. However, the many traffic lights slow traffic to a crawl at busy times, and in rush hour, it can often take 10 to 15 minutes to get from one side of the freeway to the other. It can be argued that there has been little improvement over the old two-lane span.

There have also been a number of structural problems with the overpass, the most recent of which was repaired in the past week.

When a similar overpass upgrade went ahead at the Mount Lehman interchange in Abbotsford, a much better design involving flyovers and traffic circles was used, and traffic congestion there is minimal, even though it too is located in a rapidly-growing area and is the gateway to the Abbotsford Airport.

It’s too bad that Langley is now burdened with such an inadequate structure for its busiest freeway interchange, and that the community will be stuck with it for decades to come.