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City endorses bus loop relocation
Residents and shoppers in downtown Langley City will likely be seeing more bus traffic and a whole new configuration of streets and intersections in the coming years.
The City of Langley has endorsed a proposal by TransLink to relocate and expand the downtown bus loop from its current Logan Avenue location to a parcel of land between Cascades Casino and 203 Street.
Jeff Busby gave council a detailed presentation of TransLink’s preferred new design at its Sept. 23 meeting, explaining that the plan calls for the extension of 203A Street from Logan Avenue through to Fraser Highway. Currently, 203A Street feeds into the Cascades Casino parking lot.
The expansion will take the road between the casino and a piece of property owned by Langley Concrete and Tile, which is currently being used to store vehicles for sale.
Once complete, the transit hub would serve three basic functions: passenger pick up/drop off, bus layovers and shelter, Busby explained.
The overall design calls for a bus mall on the southern extension of 203A Street, with a transit plaza area on the west side of the mall, a preserved right-of-way for a future rapid transit station and “pocket plazas” at the new intersection of 203A Street and Fraser Highway.
In addition to the extension of 203A Street, the recommended exchange concept also requires the extension of Industrial Avenue eastward to 203A Street and two new signalized intersections at 203 Street/Industrial Avenue and 203A Street/Fraser Highway.
Meanwhile, 56 Avenue south of Fraser Highway would terminate in a cul-de-sac to remove the conflicting Fraser Highway intersection.
By endorsing the Downtown Langley Transit Exchange Concept Plan the City does not commit itself to any expenditure of funds, and realization of the plan is dependent on private development for land assembly, acquisition and frontage improvements, Busby explained.
TransLink is also in the process of planning a second Langley transit hub in the Willowbrook mall area. Township council endorsed that plan in July.
Councillor Dave Hall questioned how practical the downtown location will be for commuting drivers.
“I see where people will get on the buses. How will they get there? Are there parking provisions?” asked Hall.
Busby replied that the City bus loop is expected to be used primarily by people changing buses and pedestrian traffic, while the Willowbrook hub will be more geared toward drivers using the system as part of their commute.
There is also a park-and-ride in Walnut Grove for commuters who choose to take a bus into Vancouver.
However, Busby added, there is nothing to prevent landowners from providing parking in the area surrounding the Langley City exchange.
“It could well be a cash cow to anyone who wants to provide parking,” Hall agreed.
While City council has given the design its stamp of approval, there is no definite time frame for the construction of a new exchange, which is part of TransLink’s Transportation 2040 plan, explained City CAO Francis Cheung.
Instead, he said, it is up to land owners to determine if and when they want to sell.
“We want to have it sooner rather than later,” said Cheung, adding the City has no control over property owners’ decisions.
In addition to the land required for the transit exchange, a block of businesses — including three restaurants and an upholstery shop — sits in the line of a 203A Street extension.
Any road dedication issues related to that would have to be worked out between the businesses and the City, Cheung said.
City staff have met periodically with area merchants to discuss the municipality’s downtown master plan.
The transit loop is one more element of that plan, said Cheung.
Asked whether the City will be approaching the block of businesses — including three restaurants and an upholstery shop — that would have to come down in order to extend 203A Street, Cheung said that it is a possibility.
“It’s something to consider now that TransLink has formally announced the plan and council has endorsed it,” he said. “We can encourage property owners to work together and to work with the City.
“It’s a win-win for the City and the owners,” he said.