Traffic enters Highway 99 from 32 Avenue, where drivers from all sides frequently experience congestion. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Traffic enters Highway 99 from 32 Avenue, where drivers from all sides frequently experience congestion. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Busy Highway 99 junction not yet a priority for province

City of Surrey says it’s ready to fund project

Motorists who slow to a crawl while waiting for traffic to get on Highway 99 from the 32 Avenue interchange during rush hour will have to wait for the province to make the intersection a priority before they see improvements.

The City of Surrey started a design process for improvements for the interchange in 2011, which was followed by an open house the following year. As the interchange affects both a city road and provincial highway, the project needs to be cost-shared between both governments.

“We’re ready,” City of Surrey team lead for capital planning and programming Doug McLeod told Peace Arch News last week, noting the city has had the funding for the project in place since 2014.

“We currently still have the money to fund it at our end. In our dialogue and conversation with the (Ministry of Transportation), they said the project is under consideration. They haven’t necessarily said they have the ability to fund their portion of it.”

Surrey transportation planning manager Philip Bellefontaine said the city would like to see the project initiated within the next one to three years.

“It’s in our short-term plans, we’re prepared. We’ve got the designs ready. We’re hearing from the community that there are concerns and we’re ready to hit the ground running,” Bellefontaine said.

Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux made an online comment on a PAN article Oct. 5, which contradicted what the City of Surrey has said.

“The city hasn’t made 32nd a priority. I’m very concerned about it and have raised it both with the ministry and city and will continue to advocate for investments in both 32nd improvements and 24th access to Hwy 99,” she wrote.

Asked for clarification, Cadieux said that while serving as MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale (2013-2017), she asked the Ministry of Transportation about upgrading that interchange.

“(What) I was told by the ministry, at that time, was that we indeed have our piece of that anticipating to spend ready, but that it’s up to the city to determine when they’re ready to move with the pieces of it that are theirs. At that point, they hadn’t been told it was a priority.”

PAN told Cadieux that the City of Surrey said it’s ready to do the upgrades, and the holdup is due to the province.

“Perhaps the ministry’s position has changed since I last spoke with them. I have a meeting with the minister of transportation later this month and will be inquiring. I will then follow up with the city again,” she said in an email.

An official with the ministry told PAN by email last week that the project is on the province’s radar, however the province is “confirming priority for this project in relation to other regional priorities.”

“There is currently no timeline for this project, and both parties are still in discussions about what a potential partnership might look like if the project was approved to proceed,” a representative from the ministry wrote.

Other road infrastructure projects

Among other road improvement projects that the city has in its books for South Surrey, McLeod and Bellefontaine agreed that the 32nd Avenue and 152 Street interchange upgrade is the most important.

Other network improvements the city is working on include a widening of 24 Avenue from 161A Street to 168 Street, which is scheduled to go under construction in 2018; improvements on 160 Street from 24 Avenue to 32 Avenue, which is targeted for 2019; a Highway 24 Avenue and Highway 99 interchange, which is in the city’s ten-year plan; and the city is “looking at” a new overpass at Highway 99 on 20 Avenue.

Cadieux said she spoke with the city about a Highway 99 interchange at 24 Avenue “because of all the growth up on 24th and acknowledgement that I know at one point the city had wanted to make an interchange at 24th.”

McLeod said the city recognizes that a 24 Avenue and Highway 99 interchange is “needed in the community,” but that the project is “probably in the four-to-six year range.”

South Surrey is in need of road infrastructure projects due to the increased growth in the area, McLeod added, which was echoed by Cadieux.

“There are proposed developments being talked about that leaves the residents very concerned, not so much about the development, but more about the infrastructure,” Cadieux said. “The infrastructure is not keeping up from my prospective and from what I’m hearing.”

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Backed up traffic on 32 Avenue at the 152 Street intersection last Saturday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Backed up traffic on 32 Avenue at the 152 Street intersection last Saturday. (Aaron Hinks photo)