A plan to create an east-west thoroughfare by linking Marshall and King roads near Abbotsford International Airport has been given council approval.
The hope is that the route will help alleviate traffic congestion on Fraser Highway and remove 3,000 to 5,000 vehicles a day from that busy route.
The $9.1 million proposal approved Monday was recommended by staff despite the objections of residents of Marshall Road Extension.
Staff said the proposal will cost $5 million less than another plan that would have seen two existing stretches of King Road connected.
That proposal had been part of the city’s long-term traffic strategy, but depended on the removal of gravel that was not expected to be completed for another 20 to 25 years.
Residents of the Marshall Road Extension opposed the proposal because it would make what had been a dead-end route a through road with significantly more traffic.
Mayor Henry Braun said he understood residents’ opposition to the proposal.
“If I lived on that street, I would have the same concerns,” he said. But for the city as a whole, the proposal makes more sense, he argued.
“We don’t have a lot of options for east-west traffic and that is where our congestion is.”
He noted that of the two options before council, the Marshall Road proposal would cost less and take cars off Fraser Highway much quicker.
Questions were raised at the public meeting, and by Coun. Moe Gill, about the gravel industry’s involvement in pushing the Marshall plan.
Braun said the impetus behind the project was a meeting he had with city manager George Murray, at which they discussed the need to alleviate east-west traffic.
He said the road will be increasingly needed as the airport grows and as industrial lands in the area are built out.
The new proposal will keep the road to two lanes with a 50 km/h speed limit.
Braun and several councillors stressed that the widening of Fraser Highway remains a priority, although provincial funds are needed before that can take place.
Coun. Les Barkman cast the lone vote in opposition to the proposal.