Editorial: On the road to a 216 Street interchange

Here’s why all Langley Township residents need to get involved in the discussions about the 216 Street interchange, even those who don’t happen to live in the immediate area.

First of all, it’s your money.

The Township and, by extension, the taxpayers, are paying a portion of the cost, $14.3 million of the $59 million, with the rest coming from the federal and provincial governments.

Secondly, the four-lane interchange, which will funnel traffic to and from the freeway, will have an impact that goes beyond the immediate area of the 216 Street corridor.

The people planning the project estimate the new overpass will reduce travel times along the corridor by up to 30 per cent, and will relieve congestion at the 200 Street and 232 Street interchanges.

As well, the people who have been arguing for a 216 Street exit for years say it will create better access to Walnut Grove, Willoughby, Fort Langley and to Highway One and will ease congestion on 209 and 200 Streets.

There will be left hand turn lanes to allow direct access to the freeway, the widening of Highway 1 between 202 Street and 216 Street from four lanes to six, pedestrian and cycling access across the overpass, and the extension of HOV ramps to and from 202 Street.

All positives, to be sure.

But there are possible negatives, unintended consequences, of making that big a change in traffic flows, and some of them were raised at the first public open house at Alex Hope Elementary.

Some people were worried about motorists taking shortcuts to the new interchange through their neighbourhood and the effect an increase in traffic flow would mean for students at both Topham Elementary and Ecole des Voyageurs Elementary.

Others voiced concerns about possible truck traffic, noise and parking impacts.

Those who want a say have until April 21 to make their feelings known, which is how long the planners have allowed for public feedback.

Construction is expected to start this fall.

So if there are other concerns, different issues that haven’t been raised yet, now’s the time to raise them.

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