With the South Fraser Perimeter Road (Highway 17) expansion, Port Mann/Highway 1 expansion, Highway 15 expansion, and Highway 10 expansion (which I posted about earlier,) a total of $4.2 billion in road building has been focused around Surrey within the last 10-years. You’d think the Province would be ready to look at investing in transit in the city, but this doesn’t appear to be the case as yesterday’s meeting with the TransLink Mayors’ Council did not produce any results in finding long-term funding for transit. The region is serious about a comprehensive road pricing strategy, but the Province seems to be cool to the idea and still insists that property tax will be the solution to pay for transit which the region’s mayors oppose.
But not to worry the Province will be building a new George Massey Tunnel and will likely expanded Highway 99, and if that isn’t enough, we’ll also get a new option on 16th Avenue which runs straight from Highway 99 to Highway 1 in Abbotsford.
16th Avenue has been identified as the next major highway corridor in the South of Fraser by all levels of government and will be expanded to a 4-lane highway. While a coordinated strategy for completing the corridor has not been finalized, the ground work is being laid for another highway through Surrey.
The Province and the City of Surrey are jointly funding a $24 million interchange at 16th Avenue and Highway 99. The 6-lane overpass and on/off-ramps will finish construction in 2014. I can imagine that the next phase to jointly fund the expansion of the entire 16th Avenue corridor is not far off.
Now I may come across anti-road-building, but what I’m concerned about is that in and around Surrey, a large sum of money is being spent on the road system with no questions asked; not much thought is being given to manage the demand and prioritize commercial traffic either. At the same time, expanding transit in Surrey has been a no go for way too long, which has created an imbalanced system. Getting around in a car in Surrey isn’t ideal, but it is currently the only option for many people in the community. The reality is if transportation choice is not provided for Surrey residents, even with all the highway building, they will find themselves in an exceedingly more congested community.
I feel that the Province needs to take a break from endless highway expansions and evaluate how it can make the current network more efficient and prioritize traffic that keeps the economy running, while providing a real alternative to driving for people to get around Surrey and the rest of the region.