A plan for major road improvements in a gridlocked area of South Surrey is stuck in the slow lane – nearly five years after the city revealed drawings of its proposal.
The $7.5-million project would add new lanes and lengthen existing ones around the intersection of 152 Street and 32 Avenue and the nearby Highway 99 interchange.
But Peace Arch News has learned construction could be delayed until 2021, promising motorists who use the area at least another five years of congestion.
Coun. Tom Gill, chair of Surrey council’s transportation and infrastructure committee, said the project is still a priority, but cost-sharing from the provincial Ministry of Transportation is required – and the ministry has focused its funding on building the $24-million interchange at 16 Avenue. That project, which replaced an aging two-lane overpass with a six-lane design, was completed in 2014.
“The costs are pretty substantial,” Gill said. “We were very fortunate that we got the 16 Avenue (interchange) in terms of the timing. There’s no question we needed it. There may have been some push in terms of other areas that had concerns, but to be able to embrace extra overpasses is something we always want to achieve.
“Given the province’s desire to have 16th, we weren’t about to suggest that wasn’t a priority for us as well.”
According to the province, building the interchange was, in part, aimed at reducing truck traffic from 32 Avenue. But gridlock is still a regular occurrence at the intersection, particularly during peak times.
The city first unveiled plans at an open house in March 2012. The project would boost capacity for the Highway 99 on- and off-ramps at 32 Avenue and improve turning movements at the 152 Street and 32 Avenue intersection with additional lanes.
Gill said the project is now a medium priority, pushing the start of construction to between 2019 and 2021. But city staff are working with the ministry to advance the project for possible earlier construction, he added.
“I very much do appreciate that we do have congestion issues throughout our city. There’s no question in my mind that we need to make some significant improvements in terms of north-south and east-west connectors.”
Surrey’s road levy – which amounts to approximately $128 for the average Surrey home – was put in place in 2007 toward that goal, he noted.
“We’ve been making it a huge priority by dedicating one per cent each year, every year to the roads and traffic levy – and that I expect to continue for the next decade.
“At the same time, given the improvements we need to make to ensure that we’re not in gridlock, we need to be more thoughtful in terms of those investments.”
As for whether the city is growing too fast for its road network, Gill said the city needs to take advantage of the economic upturn, citing the building of a new city hall as an example.
“Now that city hall is here, the investment that we’ve made has and currently is paying dividends. You can see the investment from the private sector and you can see the investment in terms of the head offices that are looking to relocate to Surrey.”