If you’ve been along the Langley Bypass, you’ll have noticed that a series of overpasses has been built. These overpasses have been built in response to increased rail traffic along the Roberts Bank Rail Corridors which links Port Metro Vancouver’s facilities in Delta/Tsawwassen with the main CN and CP rail network.
The first overpass built was the 204th Street Overpass. Announced in 2005, the overpass opened in May 2007. The $36.9 million project was mostly funded by TransLink with the City of Langley contributing $8.45 million to the project.
In June 2007, the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor Program was announced. This program would fund more overpass construction as a way to mitigate the congestion caused by rail traffic. The program was funded by the federal government, the province, Port Metro Vancouver, TransLink, municipal government, and railway companies.
As part of the Program, the City of Langley contributed $8.3 million to the $121.5 million “Combo Project” (a series of overpasses at 192nd Street, 54th Avenue and 196th Street.) This project is about 2/3 complete.
In total, the City of Langley has contributed $16.75 million to building overpasses. Combined with the new Fraser Highway Bridge near the Langley Bypass/208th Street which the City contributed $8.4 million towards, the City of Langley’s largest projects in recent memory have been overpasses and bridges. To put thing into context, the City of Langley normal spend about $10 million per year on capital projects.
In fact only the proposed $14.3 million Timm Community Centre replacement, of which little is known, will exceed the cost of a single overpass or bridge. With this kind of spending, other projects like improving sidewalks, cycling facilities, and cleaning up the public realm have been deferred.
These overpasses may not even result in reduced congestion due to rail traffic. Right now about 22 trains per day go through Langley. With proposed port expansion plans, the number of train per day could increase to 60. This would effectively cut off Fraser Highway, 200th Street, and sections of the Langley Bypass to through traffic.
While the 204th Street Overpass was the first to open in 2007, the City is still paying for that project. The City expropriated land for the project and one of the land owners challenged this in court. The court decided that the City of Langley must now pay an additional $2,026,360 including legal costs to the land owner. The province will pick up half the tab, but the City must pay an additional $1 million. This is $1 million that now can’t be spent on other capital projects.
Whether you think that building overpasses are a good thing or bad, one thing for sure is that they are costly and have diverted funds from other projects.