A plethora of politicians were on hand Friday morning, to mark the surprisingly swift progress on the “combo” overpass project.
This project may turn out to be the most comprehensive, expensive and perhaps even most successful of all the improvements being made along the rail line to Roberts Bank.
The heavy presence of politicians emphasized the partnership that is making these projects possible. The federal government, first under Prime Minister Paul Martin, and since 2006 under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has made improvements along the rail line a high priority. The government is putting about $75 million into projects which will total $307 million. They stretch from the port rail yard all the way to 232 Street.
The province has also committed a great deal of money, and Langley MLAs Mary Polak (who was present as minister of transportation) and Rich Coleman played a key role. When Langley residents rose in alarm at plans to expand the port without doing anything to mitigate additional rail traffic through Langley, they went to bat for this community, way back in 2005.
All local governments from Delta to Langley Township have put in money and are managing various projects along the line. Port Metro Vancouver and the railways, who will benefit greatly from this investment, have also added funds to the overall project.
The combo project involves three overpasses — 192 Street, 54 Avenue and along the 196 Street alignment. This latter one involves building new roads and putting an overpass over both the rail line and Langley Bypass.
It even includes improvements to roads and traffic signals as far north as 196 Street and 64 Avenue.
A system of warning signs to advise drivers when a train is approaching should give local residents adequate chances to avoid getting snarled in traffic jams as trains pass by. The three major roads of Fraser Highway, 200 Street and Highway 10 will not have overpasses in place.
In concert with the Mufford overpass, which will connect 64 Avenue traffic to Glover Road, there will be many more alternatives available to Langley drivers.
Despite all the money being spent, this project should not be seen as the final solution. If port traffic continues to grow, there will have to be more overpasses built in the future. An overpass along Highway 10 must be next on the list.