The province is pledging to widen Highway 1 in the Fraser Valley to six lanes between Langley and Abbotsford as part of its newly unveiled provincial transportation plan.
The document, titled B.C. On The Move, focuses largely on rural transportation priorities from highway upgrades for heavy trucks to regional airport improvements.
Its pledge to begin design work for a six-lane Highway 1 to Abbotsford offers no timeline or other specifics, such as whether HOV lanes will extend further east.
The plan also pledges 20 highway interchange and overpass improvements in the Lower Mainland, including a new Highway 1 interchange at Mountain Highway in North Vancouver to begin construction next year, and an upgrade to Mt. Lehman Road connecting Highway 1 to the Abbotsford Airport.
The biggest future project in the Lower Mainland will be the replacement of the George Massey Tunnel with a new bridge, although there’s no price tag yet.
The plan promises to continue planning for the project ahead of an expected construction start in 2017.
Nowhere in the document are tolls mentioned – either on the Massey bridge or elsewhere – but Transportation Minister Todd Stone has said the new bridge may well be tolled.
If both the Massey and Pattullo replacements are tolled, Stone says the province will have to alter its policy to reform how tolls are charged in the region, or else every lower Fraser River crossing except one would be tolled.
Several initiatives aim to help the trucking industry, including a pledge to build at least two new truck parking areas in the Lower Mainland and 10 new truck inspection pullouts across the province.
The announcement Tuesday in Vancouver came the same week ballots began to go out in Metro Vancouver’s transit tax plebiscite.
The plan reiterates the province’s promise to deliver one third of the funding needed for major new rapid transit projects and to replace the Pattullo Bridge, subject to business case completion and the constraints of the provincial budget.
Stone said the province is ready to deliver its share of the money for the transit plan proposed by the mayors if the mail-in vote passes.
“Our one third is on the table,” Stone said. “We’re waiting to see if the Lower Mainland’s residents approve the region’s share. That is why a Yes vote is so critical.”
Other planks of the plan include:
- Allowing cities to enable motorcycle parking in unused spaces near intersections.
- Encouraging more use of natural gas buses across the province.
- Working with TransLink to improve SkyTrain accessibility with more elevators and escalators.
The province will also consider allowing slow-moving vehicles to make short trips on low-volume roads as an alternative for people in smaller communities who don’t want to drive a car.
Also announced Wednesday was $7 million for widened pathways and safety fencing for cyclists and walkers on the Stanley Park causeway.