Afternoon rush hour on Highway 1 near McCallum Road, on June 23, 2016. (Dan Ferguson/ Black Press)

Afternoon rush hour on Highway 1 near McCallum Road, on June 23, 2016. (Dan Ferguson/ Black Press)

Fraser Valley traffic congestion going under the microscope

Growing FV region needs ‘mobility enhancements’ for economic growth, livability, say provincial reps

The problem of traffic congestion in the Fraser Valley is going under the microscope and local government officials across the vast region could not be happier about the prospect.

B.C.’s ‘Restart Plan’ includes a new transportation planning study for the valley that will zero in on traffic congestion and transportation demand.

“We know that more and more people are choosing the Fraser Valley to live, work and raise their children,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, in a release about the long-awaited transportation study.

The Fraser Valley Transportation Study will help develop new transit and transportation networks, invest in solutions supporting regional growth and liveability, while building on existing data and studies.

Local governments have been lobbying provincial reps to do something concrete about the unrelenting traffic congestion clogging things up for years, including a big push in favour of highway widening efforts.

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove praised the study initiative that’s getting underway, noting it recognized challenges and opportunities for transportation and land-use planning in the Fraser Valley.

City of Chilliwack officials have been anticipating this study since February when the provincial government presented its 2020 budget and introduced the notion of “Fraser Valley Integrated Transportation and Land Use Plan”.

“We have seen a dramatic increase in highway traffic from Langley to Chilliwack as more people move to our community from Metro Vancouver,” Popove said. “Chilliwack also serves as a major rest stop for truck drivers transporting goods throughout the province, creating additional congestion on an already overfilled highway.”

“We hope the province will continue to work in close collaboration with local government on their plan,” Popove said.

The Fraser Valley Regional district has been playing a significant role in this process and has been vocal about the region’s needs on behalf of local governments.

FVRD officials fired off a letter to the MOTH arguing the province: “must expedite the widening of Highway 1 to support HOV/bus lanes as a means of improving the viability of transit, improving public safety and supporting the broader Fraser Valley and provincial economy; and that the Province work in collaboration with the Fraser Valley Regional District and member municipalities to ensure that Fraser Valley interests and requirements are fully reflected in the plan.”

Decisions on transportation and development in the region impact every part of the province, as well as the valley, in terms of economic recovery, trade network resilience and housing, so traffic solutions are key. The study will seek opportunities to help reduce future traffic congestion, such as worker mobility, shorter commutes and managing traffic demand.

“One of the most significant challenges facing the City of Abbotsford and for the Fraser Valley region continues to be transportation,” said Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun. “We know that effective and efficient transportation systems generate employment and economic development, as well as job creation for local communities.

The study will provide “useful” data, as economic growth is contingent upon a “safe, reliable and efficient multi-modal transportation network; especially as communities look to expand markets for our key local sectors, such as manufactured goods, agri-foods and aerospace,” Braun added.

Feedback is being sought from residents, business owners, and the province is working with local governments and First Nations.

“Findings will inform transportation and development projects that consider trade corridor needs,” according to Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson. “We want to focus on continuing to create a good quality of life for citizens in the Fraser Valley, and we are asking what solutions will contribute to this in a positive way.”

READ MORE: Chilliwack’s love affair with the car continues

READ MORE: South of Fraser Community Rail still pushing


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