Overpass, highway widening near Sumas border crossing finally gets green light for construction

Construction to start soon on long-delayed $30 million project in Abbotsford

A $30 million infrastructure project that has been stalled for more than four years is finally set for construction.

Last month, the city has put the call out for a project manager to oversee the building of the Vye Road overpass, and widening of Highway 11, and set out a required March 31, 2020 completion date. On Thursday, the city announced construction will begin soon.

A request for proposals (RFP) issued last month says up to $30 million of funding had been announced. That figure is an increase on the $25 million announced in 2013. Of that $25 million, the City of Abbotsford, Province of British Columbia and Federal Government were each to pay $8.3 million. It’s unclear from Thursday’s press release if that equal split is still applied to the $30 million. The News has requested further comment.

The project will see the NEXUS lane to the U.S. border extended 1.8 kilometres, a two-lane overpass constructed over rail lines, and improved connections between Riverside Road and the commercial area just south of Highway 1.

The RFP says “substantial completion of the project is required by March 31, 2020.”

Funding from the provincial and federal governments was announced in March of 2013 by then-Mayor Bruce Banman, MLA Mike de Jong and MP Ed Fast. A sign for the project cited a completion date in the fall of 2016.

But construction never got started, with the city hoping to add a second overpass at McConnell Road – a plan the railroads had some concerns about. There has also been dramatic political change since the original project was proposed, with Banman failing in his re-election bid and de Jong and Fast’s parties both losing power.

An RFP issued last month suggested the project will also see a crossing added at McDonnell Road to enable shoppers to access the commercial area via Riverside Road, rather than solely off of Highway 11. A preliminary design for the project estimated that once operational, around 20 per cent of traffic to the commercial area is expected to access the site off of Riverside, although those figures were developed in 2014, when Target was still at the site.

A roundabout would direct traffic at the intersection of Vye and Riverside roads, while a signal would be added at the intersection of Vye and McConnell.

The 2014 study projected that configuration would be adequate through at least 2038.

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