Mayor Henry Braun and Premier John Horgan’s right-hand man will sit down this year to discuss the options for a rapid transit link between Abbotsford and Metro Vancouver.
Braun has become increasingly vocal in the last two years about the need to widen Highway 1 from Langley to Abbotsford. He has spoken with Horgan about the issue in several meetings, including one last summer that also involved several community members.
But while the provincial government has signaled that widening the highway may happen at some point, it has focused most of its attention on public transit projects.
Just before Christmas, Horgan sent a letter to the city promising that a meeting “to discuss future rapid transit needs” between his chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, and Braun will happen soon.
Braun said last summer’s meeting, which included Horgan, Meggs and Transportation Minister Claire Trevena, left the provincial politicians with a better understanding of the issues related to the highway. Braun, Meggs and Horgan met again in September at the annual conference for the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).
“We talked about both rail transit and bus transit, or a combination of those two,” Braun said. “Now that it looks like SkyTrain will be coming to the City of Langley, that brings it a lot closer to us.
“I don’t want to give [away] too much of the conversation that we had in private at UBCM, [but] I think that discussion resonated with the premier.”
Any discussion of rapid transit involving buses would likely be linked to the widening of the highway.
Braun and the city have most recently been calling for the widening of the highway to four lanes, with one dedicated for high-occupancy vehicles and buses. Another lane could potentially be allocated just to truck traffic, which has increased substantially in recent years.
Next year, the Fraser Valley Express – which currently runs between Chilliwack, Abbotsford and the Carvolth bus exchange in Langley – will begin travelling to the Lougheed SkyTrain Station. Braun said that bus, which is financed by the cities of Chilliwack and Abbotsford, proves that the demand for transit exists.
“I have some ideas about that and I’m sure he does as well, so I’m very much looking forward to that meeting.”
Braun has also been tying the highway to increasing usage at Abbotsford International Airport. He pointed to a story in The News last week that noted the airport’s key role in the region’s plans to respond to a disaster.
He also suggested that rebuilding Highway 1 overpasses between Langley and Abbotsford to better withstand earthquakes would also help the response to a major disaster.
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