Truck traffic, noise, safety, and a host of other concerns about the new 216 Street Highway 1 Interchange raised by Walnut Grove residents, have been addressed by Township staff in a new report (attached below).
Council received the 216 Street Interchange report — which was put together in collaboration with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) — for information during their Oct. 17 afternoon meeting.
Highlighting several topics that have been voiced by residents, in particular, the report discusses the interchange location, safety, impacts to the Forest Hills neighbourhood and truck routes.
One of the suggestions brought up by residents who are opposed to the project is to relocate the freeway interchange from 216 Street to Glover Road.
According to the report, there are several reasons why Glover Road is not the chosen route. First, there is not enough space between Glover Road and the 232 Street on ramps for a safe interchange. Spacing of at least 3,200 metres “is the desirable distance pursuant to MoTI standards for public safety,” the report says, and the distance between Glover Road and 232 Street is 1,600 metres. That, according to the report, may lead to traffic weaving “which should be avoided.”
The report also says Glover Road would “not address current operational needs at other interchanges, including 200 Street; would impact existing railways; would impact existing buildings at Trinity Western University; would not provide adequate connectivity to existing roads; and would have negative environmental and agricultural impacts.”
Another concern voiced by residents is that they had been previously told an interchange would be created at 217A Street, not 216 Street. The report states that, in fact, a new interchange at 216 Street has been in the plans since the “early 1980s,” however there was a time when an alternate 217A Street alignment was considered. Known as the Cottonwood Connector, this interchange would have been part of a provincial highway that would lead to a new bridge over the Fraser River. This option was abandoned in the early 1990s in favour of a bridge at 200 Street instead, which became the Golden Ears Bridge.
With both école des Voyageurs and Topham Elementary school located on 216 Street, many in the community have said they are worried the interchange will compromise safety for the students walking back and forth to school. Some have suggested that 30 km/h school zone signs be included when the interchange is constructed. However, according to the report, “the Township has evaluated and determined that posting of 30 km/h school zones signs is not warranted as per TAC (Transportation Association of Canada) guidelines.”
Staff say these concerns will be mitigated by completing sidewalks, installing crosswalks, installing traffic signals and building noise barriers.
Some residents of the Forest Hills subdivision located beside the proposed interchange fear that drivers will use their quiet roads as a shortcut to the highway. Some have suggested that the entrance to their area at Telegraph Trail be closed to prevent this from happening. Township staff have advised that Telegraph Trail is a collector road — which is meant to carry moderate traffic volumes and connect to busier arterial roads — and that “a full or partial closure is not consistent with Township’s bylaws and policies and as such not supported by staff.”
If it is closed, the report says that could lead local traffic wanting to access 216 Street to divert to 212 Street and 88 Avenue, causing increased traffic and travel time on those routes, and potentially encouraging similar closure requests in other neighbourhoods.
Township staff will monitor the traffic flow and pattern changes after the interchange is opened, and may consider traffic calming in the future, the report says.
One of the more vocal concerns issued by residents is the potential impact of truck traffic travelling north from the highway to 96 Avenue.
According to the report, “concerns related to safety and noise have been addressed through expansion of the scope of works to include improved walkway, pedestrian and crossing facilities and a noise attenuation wall.”
The portion of 216 Street between 88 Avenue and 96 Avenue is already designated as a truck route, with the portion between Highway 1 and 88 Avenue designated as a future truck route. To change these designations, the Township must receive TransLink approval.
An engineering consulting firm is currently conducting a North Langley Truck Route Review to assess existing truck routes in Fort Langley, Walnut Grove and Glen Valley. Once completed, those findings will be presented to council in a report.
During Monday afternoon’s meeting, Coun. Kim Richter asked that council vote to eliminate truck traffic along 216 Street from north of Highway 1 to 88 Avenue.
“… I think what we should be doing is giving clear direction to staff, and that is, when you reconfigure the truck routes in North Langley, make sure that piece of the road stays a non-truck route,” Richter said.
“And that’s the intent of this motion, because that’s what a big portion of the concerns that have been expressed to this council by the delegations that were here earlier, by the rally that they held earlier — they don’t want trucks on that road.”
Richter’s motion was defeated 6-3, with several other councillors stating they would like to wait for the truck traffic report before voting on the issue.