As workers with heavy earth-moving equipment filled in both sides of 72 Avenue near 198B Street last week in Langley Township, a pleased Gary Hee dropped by to watch.
“This is wonderful,” said Hee, who submitted a petition to Township council more than two years ago calling for safety improvements to the road.
“I can shred this (the petition) instead of hanging onto it,” Hee said.
“It’s been a long time coming.”
Hee, a Surrey resident, began campaigning for improvements to the stretch of road that crosses the Langley-Surrey border after there were a number of serious accidents in the area of 72 Avenue and 198B Street.
At that intersection, the road coming from the east narrowed to two lanes, and a ditch on one side forced pedestrians to walk next to oncoming traffic, without a sidewalk or curb to separate them.
“The hazards here were unique,” Hee said.
“The walking path available for pedestrians was about 12 inches.”
Hee predicted the upgrades would reduce the number of accidents at the intersection and “improve respect” for pedestrians from motorists.
In 2013, a young boy was hit while rollerblading and a 19-year-old woman was struck in a hit-and-run crash and left lying in a ditch.
A collision in 2014 claimed the life of an 83-year-old man who was hit by a car while walking.
The accident was witnessed by Roger Bhullar, who lives near the intersection, an experience that led him to lobby for safety improvements with Hee.
“If they had done it sooner (filled in the ditch), they would have saved lives,” Bhullar said.
Work on the $1.6 million upgrade began in August and is expected to finish in November.
Paul Cordeiro, Langley Township’s manager of transportation engineering, said the Township was able to fill in the ditch on one side and put in a sidewalk because the St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox church agreed to give up part of their parking lot at the intersection of 72 and 198B to accommodate the design.
“They (the church) were very helpful and co-operative in moving the project forward,” Cordeiro said.
The agreement with the church was negotiated two months ago.