Frank Beck, of Beckville Woodcrafts, says commuters aren’t giving trucks in industrial area a break. (Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS)

Golden Ears Bridge traffic crowds Maple Meadows Business Park

Afternoon rush hour snakes through warehouse area

Fix one problem and you’ve got another.

Just ask the businesses along 113B Avenue that now contend with steady streams of traffic after tolls were removed from the Golden Ears Bridge on Sept. 1.

Frank Beck, at Beckville Woodcrafts, which is located at the end of the off-ramp from the bridge into Maple Meadows Business Park, says that traffic has increased by three or four times compared to when he first moved into the present building in 2013.

“It’s crazy,” he said.

Vehicles sometimes even get stalled on the bridge when the roundabout at Golden Ears Way and 113B Avenue gets jammed, he added.

“It’s a real problem for sure. Trying to get into that roundabout between 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at night is just brutal.”

That doesn’t happen every day, he added, saying there also seem to be more trains on the CP Railway line that crosses 113B Avenue, which also delays traffic.

Beck doesn’t blame people for driving through the business park, but just has one request – that they recognize they’re in an industrial area and that trucks are stopping and backing up, loading and unloading.

But motorists are just trying to speed through the area, he said.

“These poor truck drivers are getting honked at, it’s just crazy, and people are swerving around them because they’re in a hurry. Nobody wants to slow down for the truck drivers and that’s what this business park is about, it’s about moving goods.”

James Dicks, at Mr. Lunch restaurant nearby, said traffic is particularly bad between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

“I noticed it about two weeks after the tolls came off.”

Since, there’s a few more parking spaces around as people abandon the former practice of parking their vehicles, then car-pooling across the bridge, to minimize bridge tolls.

Michael Eng, transportation and traffic technologist with the City of Maple Ridge, said that the road through the business park was never intended to be the main access point to Maple Ridge off the Golden Ears Bridge.

But the growth in traffic through the business park is likely linked to growing congestion on the exit points farther north on Maple Meadows Way and Golden Ears Way.

Eng says the city has talked to TransLink about the traffic jams.

“The reason we’re seeing this increase on 113B Avenue is because we’re having an increase in congestion on the Lougheed Highway,” and on Golden Ears Way east to 210th Street.

Widening of Golden Ears Way to four lanes from Lougheed Highway to 210th Street could help, he added.

“If they do that, that would probably relieve some of the pressure. That would give residents options.”

The road could be expanded to four lanes within the existing right of way.

When the Golden Ears Bridge was constructed in 2009, Lougheed Highway and Maple Meadows Way were intended to be the main exit points.

“It was never intended for traffic to exit there,” at 113B Avenue, said Eng.

According to stats from TransLink, monthly traffic volume has increased since the tolls were removed. In September 2016, a total of 1,155,300 vehicles crossed the tolled bridge.

In September 2017, that number had jumped to 1,464,200 – an increase of 27 per cent.

In October 2017, the Golden Ears Bridge saw an increase to 1,522,000 crossings, compared to 1,140,600 in October 2016.

That’s an increase of 33 per cent.

Traffic dropped slightly for the two following months, when 1,467,000 vehicles crossed in November, although that was still a 31-per-cent increase from the previous November, while 1,357,400 vehicles crossed in December.

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