Intersection, Highway 91 and Seventy-Second Avenue at 6:30 am, June 9, 2016. Photo: Ray Hudson
Intersection, Highway 91 and Seventy-Second Avenue at 6:30 am, June 9, 2016. Photo: Ray Hudson
Intersection, Highway 91 and Seventy-Second Avenue at 6:30 am, June 9, 2016. Photo: Ray Hudson

At 5:45 am, I took my camera and drove down 72nd Avenue in North Delta to take a photo of the last light controlled intersection on Highway 91.  The lineup for the Alex Fraser Bridge as already stopped at 118th Street. Turning back to Scott Road (120th St.) I drove down to 64th Avenue and ran into the lineup just past the fire station (approximately where 117th would be).   There was no problem with the Alex Fraser Bridge. It was just normal traffic.

The photo above was taken from a berm just south of the intersection, which was built in 1986 as part of the ramps of the abandoned interchange to service 72nd Avenue.

Thirty years later, after millions of crawling cars and who knows how many megatons of pollution from idling motors, the announcement has been made.  The last remaining traffic light on Highway 91 will be removed and replaced by an interchange, removing the last impediment to traffic flowing to and from the Alex Fraser Bridge.

One of the people delighted with the announcement is North Delta MLA Scott Hamilton, who commented following the announcement.

“It goes back to my days on Delta Council that Kevin Falcon, the Transportation Minister at the time, had committed to putting in that interchange when the province partnered with the federal government as part of the Border Infrastructure Program. But despite the good intentions, the money got sucked up on the New Westminster side, in the Queensborough area. They basically ran out of money and went away. Then there was a development proposal by MK Delta Lands in 2013 that was going to kick in private funding of $10 million as well as $10 million each from the province and the feds. I thought the federal money had dried up and was wiped off the table after the last election, but it appears that it’s still there, and the province,  deciding it’s just too critical to move goods and people around the region, has decided to buck up the remaining $10 million to go ahead.”  The development proposal was withdrawn previously.

Asked when work was likely to start, Hamilton responded, “Sooner than later.  I would hope to see surveying start very soon with a view to full–on construction by the fall.”

Another part of the same announcement was the intention to look at adding a seventh lane to the six lane Alex Fraser bridge to act as a counter-flow.

“This is something I brought up at the Union of BC Municipalities about two years ago,” Said Hamilton. “Some of the traffic folks thought I was crazy but it’s gone beyond just taking away an existing lane for a counter-flow, they’re now looking at adding a seventh lane. The sidewalks on the bridge are cantilevered, and the engineers think there might be enough curb on both sides, that with the median, it would to allow for a seventh full lane. My understanding is that this would not affect pedestrians or cyclists at all.” Hamilton said that the engineers would review the bridge and report on the feasibility.

In order to reduce response times to clear break-downs and accidents on the bridge, the minister also said that three tow trucks would now be at the ready during peak periods.

Wednesday’s announcement by Transportation Minister Todd Stone, also included the government’s  intention to upgrade to interchanges, the Nordel and Sunbury intersections on Highway 17. These had been downgraded from interchanges, just before the Highway opened in 2012.