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Expanding Highway 1 to cut gridlock through Fraser Valley enters next phase

Travellers on highway to see work starting, east of 264th to Mt. Lehman in $2.34B third phase
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A snapshot of traffic congestion on Highway 1 near Langley in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)

Regional growth in the Fraser Valley looms large as the next phase of the Highway 1 expansion and widening gets underway.

Highway travellers may notice prep work starting along the median east of 264th Street, with utility relocation, soil removal, tree-clearing and soil preloading underway, according the B.C. government release Nov. 28.

“People who live in our Fraser Valley communities rely on Highway 1 for more than just commuting. It’s also our connection to schools, sports, shopping and other social activities,” said Dan Coulter, minister of state for transit and infrastructure and MLA for Chilliwack.

Business leaders and elected officials have been ratcheting up the pressure in the form of calls for accelerated highway expansion as far as Chilliwack.

RELATED: Fraser Valley chambers call for highway widening to Chilliwack

The next phase zeroes in on widening the highway between 264th Street and Mt. Lehman Road, in a $2.34 billion project.

This is Phase 3A of the province’s ‘Fraser Valley Highway 1 Corridor Improvement Program,’ a multi-phase program to improve goods movement and travel along Highway 1 in the Fraser Valley through the Sumas Prairie to Chilliwack.

The expansion is expected to deal with the chronic traffic bottlenecks and bring “more sustainable” transportation options to the highway corridor by adding high occupancy vehicle (HOV) and electric vehicle lanes, as well as other multi-modal upgrades.

“The Fraser Valley is growing fast and we are building infrastructure that people need,” said Rob Fleming, minister of transportation and infrastructure.

They estimate that $65 billion in goods travel through the Highway 1 corridor annually.

“People need to be able to get to work and back home without facing gridlock,” Fleming said.

The regional growth is evidenced by more than 80,000 drivers on the highway between Langley and Abbotsford, zooming through the Sumas flats into Chilliwack every day.

The centrepiece of the next phase will be building a new interchange at 264th, reconfigured to better serve road users in the region.

It’s a constant complaint that the 264th Street area is congested from morning until late afternoon, including a stream of commercial trucks heading to and from the border crossing.

Along with more efficient goods movement, the new interchange will include improvements for active transportation, truck parking and public transit. The new interchange work is out to tender with construction expected to begin in 2024.

The 264th Street Interchange and highway widening is one of the three major contracts in Phase 3A. The other contracts will be upgrades to the Mt. Lehman Interchange and 3.7 kilometres of highway widening, and replacement of the Bradner Road overpass with 3.9 kilometres of highway widening.

These contracts will go to tender in 2024. Completion of Phase 3A is expected in 2029.

Work is underway on Phase 2 between 216th and 264th streets, with a new Glover Road overpass currently under construction and completion expected in summer 2024.

In terms of what’s next, two more tenders are on track for release, including a new interchange at 232nd Street and highway widening for HOV lanes, along with a replacement to the existing CP Rail overhead.

Further east between Mt. Lehman Road and Highway 11, advanced site-preparation work is planned for early 2024 ahead of construction on that phase of the program.

The scope of the program has expanded. A fourth phase brings the expansion through the Sumas Prairie into Chilliwack.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has committed $30 million to an integrated planning study, which is happening in parallel with flood-mitigation strategy planning work. This study will identify potential future improvements along the Trans-Canada Highway corridor between the Sumas Prairie and Chilliwack.



Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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