SOUTH SURREY – The $24-million interchange at Highway 99/16th Avenue is now open.
The six-lane interchange, which was available for commuters and pedestrians on Wednesday (Sept. 10), replaces the two-lane overpass on 16th Avenue across Highway 99.
Local MLAs Stephanie Cadieux (Surrey-Cloverdale) and Amrik Virk (Surrey-Tynehead) said the project would help bring business to South Surrey and White Rock as well as keeping 16th Avenue safe for cyclists and pedestrians.
“This increases the ability to have some of the northbound traffic flow to take an exit right here and use the businesses in White Rock and South Surrey,” said Virk. “This is a positive for the community and businesses.”
Cadieux added that 16th Avenue is a busy road and this project should improve traffic.
However, residents living along 16th Avenue aren’t as impressed with the interchange.
Don Bennett, who has lived off of 16th Avenue for three-and-a-half years, said that the original plans for the project didn’t allow him to take a left onto 162nd Street to reach his home.
“They weren’t going to give us one. It was going to be a barrier going all the way over the new overpass, about a half to three-quarters of a mile, to a roundabout to turn around to come home,” he said.
Before the project started, Bennett said there was no median on 16th Avenue, which allowed him to turn left onto the major road.
Now, for him to reach Highway 99 northbound, Bennett said he has to turn right onto 16th Avenue and use King George Boulevard to turn either right or left to get back onto 16th Avenue to travel eastbound to reach the onramp.
“We have to drive circles to get out and circles to get home,” added Bennett.
Meanwhile, resident John Verhoeve said the province is going to be monitoring the left-turn lane to see how many accidents occur in the area. The results could lead to the lane being closed at a later date. “They gave only five years for that to see how everything is going,” said Verhoeve.
If the province decides to remove the lane, Bennett, Verhoeve and their neighbours would be forced to drive past their home, turn around in someone’s driveway or 168th Street and come back westbound on 16th Avenue.
Cliff Annable, executive director of South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce believes the project is welcome news for the community.
Before, travellers from the U.S. would see The Shops at Morgan Crossing, but wouldn’t be able to take an exit to enter the area until the King George Boulevard exit, which are four kilometres past the shops, he told the Now.
Annable believes that this will only help bring more business to South Surrey and White Rock.
“It’s a game changer for people to get on the (Semiahmoo) Peninsula whether in South Surrey or White Rock,” said Annable.
The project was a joint partnership between the province, the City of Surrey and TransLink.