In response to The Progress article titled “Highway 1 widening in Chilliwack”:
It is a popular political notion that Highway 1 widening is overdue, and that it will go a long way to solving our traffic problem.
The first part of that is true.
I’ve had to deal with this issue myself 8 years ago as the Mayor of Langley, and believe it is long past due that politicians start being honest with residents on this. The Highway must be widened, of course, but to what? At what cost? Are 3 lanes each way going to be enough? Over what time period can we reasonably expect it to be completed?
These are questions we should answer with facts.
The reality is that, as of right now, no additional Hwy 1 widening has been approved. IF or when it is, widening will occur at a rate of X number of kms at a time, falling within given annual Federal, Provincial and/or Municipal budget cycles.
What this means is that highway widening will only occur at a rate of an affordable length every year, IF it is budgeted for, and budgeted for again, on an annual basis by subsequent Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments.
As an example, look at the Hwy 1 widening currently underway in Langley, from 202nd to 216th. This portion is 4 kms long, includes a new interchange at 216th, and is costing taxpayers $59 million. (Government of Canada $22.3 Million, BC Govt. $22.3 million and the Township of Langley $14.3 Million.) This portion had been under study since before I was elected in 2008. Construction began in 2017, and is due to complete in the fall of 2019.
While we should be conservative in applying these numbers to Chilliwack, there are several similarities involved, such as the need to widen or add overpasses. The distance from Langley to Chilliwack is about 55 kms, and taking those 2018 numbers into account, a ballpark calculation suggests that the widening cost to Chilliwack could easily top $1 Billion.
If we get the follow-through and commitments from subsequent BC Governments, cost-sharing approvals from the Federal Government, assistance from Municipal Governments (if they have any add ons), and assume a construction rate of 4 kms every 2 years, if we began today it would be completed in 2047!
The question must be asked, 28 years from now, how much help will an extra lane be? The reality of exponential growth and increased traffic over that 28 years would outstrip the benefit of the extra lanes by three times.
In other words, you will be three times worse off by the time it is finished than we are today. It just doesn’t work!
So, politicians waving the flag of highway widening are being, with all due respect, disingenuous!
The real solution is two-fold:
- Support the reactivation of the Interurban Corridor with state-of-art Hydrogen Community Passenger Rail that can be in place and running in short order from Chilliwack to the Pattullo Bridge, at no-cost for the use of the corridor. This will provide community transit service 7 days a week, to 16 communities, 14 Post Secondary Institutions, the Abbotsford International Airport, and connect the valley region to our public transportation system out to North Vancouver. This is an opportunity to remove a significant number of cars from Hwy 1, helping reduce congestion, while protecting our environment and the Fraser Valley Airshed.
- Fight for completion of the widening of Highway 1, but understand that it will take a considerable amount of time. I don’t care what politicians tell you. Do not be fooled or sold a bill of goods by politicians promising that the widening of Highway 1 will solve your problems or that it will happen soon.
This is not a difficult decision. Learn more about what is available to you as a resident of Chilliwack here on our website, https://southfrasercommunityrail.ca/.
What is necessary? As a citizen, put the pressure on your City Council and Regional District to demand that this Community Rail proposal for the Interurban Corridor be looked at.
We are working to establish a provincially-endorsed, community-led task force to solicit support for this initiative, which I believe represents an incredibly valuable opportunity to the public.
Former Mayor Township of Langley 2008 – 2011
The South Fraser Community Rail Campaign Committee