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Transit exchange draws cheers and jeers at open house

Langley resident, Chris, far right, explains the issues he sees with the new underpass design to other people at the transit exchange open house. The session took place at the Langley Events Centre on Tuesday night. - Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times
Langley resident, Chris, far right, explains the issues he sees with the new underpass design to other people at the transit exchange open house. The session took place at the Langley Events Centre on Tuesday night.
— image credit: Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times

Many Langley residents voiced their opinions about the new 202 Street/86 Avenue park and ride and transit exchange March 8 at an open house hosted by the Gateway program. 

While some were excited to see the plans for transit improvements, others were concerned with the design of the infrastructure  and the traffic changes it will bring to the area.

The project consists of a new park and ride facility on the south side of Highway 1 at 202 Street as well as new HOV/transit-only on and off ramps onto Highway 1, connected via an underpass. 

A roundabout, directly under the freeway, will form part of the underpass network.

The improvements are designed to provide new transportation networks and infrastructure. 

Among them are:

• a new park and ride with 800 parking spaces;

• a Highway 1 RapidBus that will travel from the 202 Street park and ride to the Lougheed SkyTrain station in less than 25 minutes; 

• an underpass, connecting the HOV/transit-only freeway entrances, the park and ride, 86 Avenue and 88 Avenue; 

• a new bus loop, and

• pedestrian and cyclist trails leading from the Langley trail system to the park and ride. 

TransLink says the new RapidBus service will be as fast if not faster than travelling by car, with buses running every 10 to 15 minutes during peak periods.

“Between the cost of the bus fare and time savings and everything else, it’s an attractive option to people who would otherwise burn their gas,” TransLink spokesperson Ken Hardie said.

However, some residents are worried the project may have negative effects on the area.

Chris, who did not give his last name, is an engineer by profession and a nearby resident on 204 Street. He is angry because he says as a resident he was never consulted about the plans, and he worries that increased traffic flow will make the area more dangerous.

“This is a disaster,” he said. 

“We are affected by all of the HOV traffic that comes through 86 Avenue. And it’s a huge traffic flow. I am very disappointed.” 

Glen Soule, a Walnut Grove resident, believes the plan for a divided median on 202 Street in front of the Walnut Gate Shopping Centre will hurt established businesses.

“You can wave your hands and you can do all of your traffic studies, but they have not added up the costs to those businesses, Soule said.

“My wife and I, who are conscious about safety, know that’s a busy corner and we frequent those businesses because they are convenient. They are severing a link.” 

In response, Max Logan, spokesperson for the Transportation Investment Corp., said the proposed infrastructure should bring new transportation options to the area without compromising the community already established. 

“I think it’s going to take a little bit of time for people to get used to the new configuration,” he said. 

“But we are confident that the roundabout, because it maintains all of the current entrances and exit points, is not going to be a significant impact to businesses. Another thing we are expecting is that because this park and ride is going to draw people to the area, there is going to be additional foot and vehicle traffic passing through the area, and so we hope that is going to be a boom for local businesses. “

Other people say it’s about time Langley receives some form of rapid transit.

“I think Langley has needed rapid transit for a long time, and the congestion and everything we have proves its point. I think everybody here is anxious to see it, whichever way it comes in,” said Jo-ann Rae, a Willoughby resident. 

Carol Paulson, a Willoughby resident of 20 years, agrees.  “It’s excellent. I’m very glad that it is coming,” she said.

The park and ride will include five large bus shelters, pay phones and bike lockers for cyclists. The area will be patrolled by TransLink security and a decision has not been made on whether or not there will be pay parking. Single occupancy vehicles can access the park and ride off 208 Street or 200 Street. HOV vehicles can access it off of 202 Street using the underpass. 

Construction of the project will be completed in 2012, coinciding with the opening of the Port Mann Bridge.

 

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