Opinion

Editorial — Too few overpasses being built in Langley

A Southern Railway of B.C. train passes the site where a new overpass is being built at 54 Avenue. Train traffic through Langley is expected to rise substantially, yet there are no plans for overpasses on the three busiest roads. - Frank Bucholtz/Langley Times
A Southern Railway of B.C. train passes the site where a new overpass is being built at 54 Avenue. Train traffic through Langley is expected to rise substantially, yet there are no plans for overpasses on the three busiest roads.
— image credit: Frank Bucholtz/Langley Times

Just as a series of overpass projects in Langley and eastern Surrey are in the final stages of construction, along comes news that the overpasses may not be adequate to deal with all the rail traffic to and from the Roberts Bank port facilities.

There are plans to drastically expand container handling facilities at the port, which would mean far more trains, and longer ones to boot. This will have the effect of holding up Langley road traffic far more frequently than is the case today.

The flaw with the overpass projects being built under the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor program is that all the Langley projects are on secondary roads. The three busiest roads, Fraser Highway, 200 Street and Langley Bypass, all have at-grade crossings, which cause long traffic back-ups when trains pass.

There are no plans to build overpasses at any of these crossings. Contrast this with Surrey, where the two new overpass projects, on 152 Street and 192 Street, involve the two busiest roads crossing the rail line at grade. King George Highway and Highway 15 have had overpasses since the 1970s, long before containers were being handfed at Roberts Bank.

The brain trust behind the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor program, which is funded by all levels of government, the railways and the port, says that advanced warning signs along busy Langley roads will alert drivers that a train is coming, and this will enable them to divert to a road with an overpass.

While these signs were supposed to be up and running as overpasses open, there is no sign of them yet. And it is uncertain how effective they will be.

The two Langley governments need to push the federal and provincial governments. and the railways, for a Langley Bypass overpass. After all, this is a provincial highway and many of its users will have no idea which alternate routes will get them over the tracks.

This needs to be a high priority.

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