Opinion

16 Avenue needs more attention

Two people are dead after a head-on collision with a gravel truck on 16 Avenue on Thursday. - Curtis Kreklau
Two people are dead after a head-on collision with a gravel truck on 16 Avenue on Thursday.
— image credit: Curtis Kreklau

Councillor Charlie Fox took some heat from fellow council members over a notice of motion on 16 Avenue traffic issues, debated last week.

It makes me wonder if any other members of Langley Township council spend much time driving on 16 Avenue, and if they have any sense of the serious problems on that road every weekday, and many other days as well.

Fox lives near 16 Avenue and uses the road a great deal. So do many other people. It is used as a commuter route by people living in Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley to get to Highway 99. It is used by travellers going to the Abbotsford Airport. And perhaps most notably, it is the primary route for tandem gravel trucks that haul aggregates, asphalt and a variety of other products from gravel pits, batch plants and other facilities in South Abbotsford.

Many of the recent serious crashes on 16 Avenue have involved these large trucks. While many of the drivers who operate these trucks do so in a safe manner, some do not. Certainly, the truck driver who collided with Langley school bus driver Jim Neis’ vehicle in 2009 was not operating in a safe manner.

Some years ago, Fox proposed a “green wave” of traffic signals along 16 Avenue, to help move traffic at a steady pace and reward drivers who kept to a certain speed. He didn’t get to first base with his fellow council members.

Meanwhile, the Township has proposed such oddities as a roundabout at 248 Street and 16 Avenue, which is below the brow of a hill, Currently, there is a four-way stop there which badly slows down east-west traffic at busy times.

That proposal has gone nowhere thus far. All the Township has done in recent years is install flashing lights at most major intersections, and a traffic light at 216 Street.

Fox took umbrage at the rejection of most of his motion by council. Many members were likely dog-tired after 10 hours of meetings, but some of their objections were quite trivial.

Fox wants to work with the province and the City of Surrey to see if an on-ramp onto Highway 99 could be built at 16 Avenue. This is a good idea, but likely should not proceed until there is a commitment to upgrade 16 Avenue and make it much safer.

Suggestions to get gravel trucks off the road won’t go anywhere. These trucks are going to take the shortest route, and 16 Avenue is currently a truck route. It will be very difficult to change that.

Speed enforcement is a problem. Langley RCMP say that if they set up a radar trap, truckers put out the word via their radios and they all dutifully slow down when going through the trap.

Personally, I believe the speed limit should be immediately raised to 70 km/h along most of 16 Avenue, with the exception of the stretch through Campbell Valley Park where the recent fatal crash took place. A speed limit of 60 km/h is simply too low and most drivers completely ignore it. But much more than a speed limit change is needed.

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