Pedestrian overpass gets some support
Any stretch of Fraser Highway in Langley is usually a busy one.
Luckily for a pedestrian, the four-lane stretch between Langley Memorial Hospital and the former Township Hall site was quiet when Fernando Lombana drove along it at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 13.
Lombana, who lives in Murrayville, said he was forced to swerve into another lane when the pedestrian. wearing dark clothing, ran across his path. Luckily, there were no other vehicles in the other lane.
Lombana is blunt about the choice had there been another vehicle close to him: Cause an accident with the vehicle or hit the pedestrian.
“It was so close,” Lombana said.
Jaywalking at the top of what is known as Hospital Hill has become such a problem that RCMP asked the Township to take action after a pedestrian was struck. This council did on Jan. 10, when it approved the erection of a fence stretching from the eastbound left-turn bay on Fraser Highway, to several metres beyond the westerly end of the landscaped median.
The jaywalkers are mainly hospital employees balking at the high cost of parking. They are ignoring signs directly them to use the crosswalk at 222 Street.
But some people, including Cindy Gagne, say that the crosswalk poses as much, if not more, danger.
In a letter to the editor which appeared in the Jan. 19 issue of The Times, Gagne wrote: “I hate the intersection at 222 Street and Fraser Highway . . . drivers are annoyed that we are there. This has all been caused by Fraser Highway and 222 Street expanding, with no bike lanes and no sensitivity to pedestrians.”
In the same edition, letter writer Karen Mason said that because there is not enough parking at LMH, she walks to work. She also criticized the crosswalk at 222 Street.
Mason said that an overpass “would make way more sense.”
The provision of a pedestrian overpass is contained in the Murrayville Community Plan of 1989. In order to pay for one, the plan authorizes a levy of $250 for every new residential unit created on the north side of Fraser Highway.
To date, this fee, which came into effect in 1997, has accumulated $170,000, administrator Mark Bakken advised council.
“The amount (to build an overpass) would probably be significantly higher than that,” he said.
The construction cost of the pedestrian overpass at 200 Street and 68 Avenue in Willoughby is $1.7 million.
That overpass construction, said Gord Swystun, the Township’s engineering project supervisor, is currently “ramping up again” as some of the steel bridge components are being delivered to the site after lengthy delays in fabrication and delivery from their European manufacturer.
On Monday, Councillor Kim Richter said that the Township could consider scrapping its contribution to the 196 Street overpass in Langley City, and put that money towards the Murrayville pedestrian overpass.
She gave notice of motion calling for a staff report on the amount of money still needed, and how the balance can be found so that the project can proceed this year.