Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Rail Overpass For Langley?

During the civic election campaign some handbills were circulated by opponents to what is being called the Mufford Crescent Overpass. Mayoral candidate (now mayor) Rick Green stated during that campaign that if elected, he would oppose such an overpass and let the federal government know that we won't be taking their money from them nor other partners. Mayor Green's inaugural address also included statements about this project, and are recorded here and here. The Langley Times recently published this article on the overpass project.

At Monday's Special Council Meeting at 3:00pm on December 15, 2008, Township staff including Colin Wright, General Manager of Engineering and Doug Hyde, Project Manager made a presentation to council on this important project, then answered questions from mayor and council. The presentation outlined the three (3) possible alignments considered for this area of Mufford Crescent and 64th Avenue. It is interesting to note that during the election campaign it was alleged that this project came out of nowhere was going forward without any public consultation. But we reprint this timeline from a TOL Memorandum dated December 3, 2008 from Project Manager Doug Hyde to Township Administrator Mark Bakken. This document was distributed to council on December 11th:

Public Documents relating to Mufford/64 Avenue:
  • October 25, 2004 - Council Report 04-303 "Conceptual Alignments for 64th Avenue" and associated Power Point presentation
  • April 4, 2005 - Council Report 05-55 "Deltaport Third Berth Environmental Assessment Application"
  • Township and City of Langley Public Display - April 30, 2005 relating to Deltaport Third Birth Environmental Assessment Application
  • Joint Township/City of Langley Council Meeting, May 3, 2005, 7:00pm, re Deltaport Third Birth Environmental Assessment Application at Christian Life Assembly
  • May 16, 2005 - Council Report 05-98 "Final Submission re Deltaport Third Birth Environmental Assessment Application"
  • August 28, 2006 - Council Report 06-164 "Proposed Deltaport Third Birth Environmental Assessment Application Report"
  • November 16, 2005 - Willowbrook Regional Town Centre Traffic Improvement and Rail Separation Task Force Meeting notes
  • March 27, 2006 - Council Report 06-55 "Rail Issues in Langley"
  • February 5, 2007 - Council Report 07-15 "Master Transporation Plan"
  • March 22, 2007 - Public Open House re Master Transportation Plan
All of these reports are available publicly and there has been considerable public information and consultation sessions. After hiring MCELHANNEY CONSULTING SERVICES INC. to provide conceptual designs and analysis for the extension of 64th Avenue from 204th Street to 216th Street, it was determined that after reviewing the three possible options, only two were viable. Reviewing all of the viable options for this alignment, a focus was placed on the current choice that unfortunately is very difficult for us to reproduce a graphic for on this blog.

Consideration had to be given to other roadways in the TOL that would be impacted by current and future traffic patterns. This analysis included a look at the Langley Memorial Hospital access roads, 200th Street, the Bypass/Hwy. 10, and thirty-seven (37) rail crossings without grade separation in Langley! Of course there were many more considerations that the engineers examined.

Mayor Green acknowledged at the end of this staff to council presentation that there was considerable public interest and opinion on this plan during his campaign. Unlike the campaign rhetoric offered back then, Mayor Green now says that it is not a question of giving back any monies to TransLink and the Federal Government, more than it is about finding the right alignment. It is also interesting to note that a friend of mine was present to monitor this meeting. Her and her colleague work for TransLink. I'm certain they were present at this council meeting because of regional concerns and the support for this project. I know that Mayor Peter Fassbender in the City of Langley is highly supportive of this program, as well as many members of his council members.

I was happy to see Mayor Green listening to the staff presentation. He appeared to be keeping an open mind on this project. There will be a public information meeting in the New Year and in fact, Mayor Green made some suggestions to Colin Wright and Doug Hyde as to what slides and maps might be worthy of including for this public meeting.

South Fraser OnTrax offers this opinion on this overpass project.
  1. We do not wish the two Langleys to become the communities of overpasses, as these structures are costly and kill lots of business and life underneath these structures
  2. We recognize that there is considerable freight/heavy rail traffic in our communities and despite all good intentions by some, this traffic is not going to go away anytime soon
  3. Current rail traffic on the Langleys already cause major disruptions here and with the number of trains increasing with Deltaport expansion, relief is needed
  4. The railroads are not willing to bargain or negotiate and they feel they were here before the residents and that guarantees their position (right or wrong)
  5. It is apparent that Colin Wright and his staff have done an excellent job of looking at all the options and impacts on other roadways in the future
  6. As less crossing delays with heavy rail will always help make passenger rail more viable for us, we support this important overpass project
We look forward to participating in the public consultation process on this vital project and we will also continue to listen to the experts and keep an open mind. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all of you. We will write here over the holidays in between mouth fulls of turkey and other goodies. Not sure if we will be able to post every day, but we sure will give it a try. Happy Holidays!

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