Burnsview Secondary’s library was packed on Tuesday, Feb. 13, as residents came to find out what the City of Delta was planning for the community’s busy 72nd Avenue.
The public information meeting was the public’s first opportunity to learn about proposed changes to the traffic corridor.
“This is a concept in terms of how it can come about,” Hugh Fraser, deputy director of engineering at the city, said about the changes. “We’re looking for input from the public.”
“Obviously it’s an important connection for the people in Delta, in terms of getting out to the highway.”
Spurred in part by the province’s construction of a new interchange at 72nd Avenue and Highway 91, and in part by the forthcoming counterflow lane on the Alex Fraser Bridge, the upgrades and changes proposed for 72nd are a reflection of North Delta’s official community plan.
In the official community plan, 72nd is one of the areas that was identified as a key spot for growth. Townhouses were recommended for the area, and already two developments are underway near 116 Street and 112 Street. Because of these higher density areas, the plan suggested eventual changes to the avenue with the intent of improving streetscapes and traffic flow.
The plan, amended in March 2015, informed some of the proposed changes, but others were new or amended ideas.
The proposed changes include: creating four complete travel lanes along 72nd Avenue from Scott Road to Westview Drive; replacing the one way stop at Westview drive with a full traffic signal; upgrading the traffic signal at 112th Street to allow for two southbound lanes; coordinating the pedestrian crossing signal at Heath Elementary with other traffic lights during peak hours; upgrading the traffic signal at 116th Street to provide through and left turn lanes both southbound and northbound; and replacing the signal at Nicholson Road to allow for four lanes of traffic with dedicated turn lanes.
In partnership with the City of Surrey, Delta is also hoping for a complete redesign of the intersection at 72nd Avenue and Scott Road. It would include protected left turn lanes in all directions by 2020 to improve safety. No new lanes are planned for the intersection at this time.
In addition to the traffic measures, the proposed changes also include some aesthetic choices. The city is hoping to include concrete barriers and gutters along 72nd Avenue between Scott Road and Westview Drive, as well as build a 1.5-metre concrete sidewalk on both sides of the road. Also included are a grassy boulevard strip with street trees, ornamental LED lighting and concrete driveway letdowns.
Many residents came to the meeting asking how their properties, and particularly driveways, would be affected. According to Delta staff, the city would pay for changes to driveways that needed to be made as a result of the road improvements.
Some residents, however, wondered why these changes needed to be made at all.
“Why would they be pushing 72nd? I don’t understand it, because 64th is a much better option,” Jason Lewko said. “This isn’t going to help, it’s just going to bring more congestion. It’s not going to solve congestion at all.”
Concerns about 72nd Avenue becoming a thoroughfare for Surrey residents heading to the highway were prominent at the meeting. However, other residents felt it was time for these changes.
“I don’t have any issues with any of it,” Debra Isaksson said. “On one hand, there’s going to be a little bit of an increase in volume because of the population. On the other hand, the choice of all the existing population will be different and that traffic will just go in a different direction” because the light at Westview Drive would make it more desirable for drivers to use 64th Avenue rather than 72nd.
Residents have until Feb. 20 to submit their comments on the proposed changes, either by emailing email@example.com or submitting them in person to the department. After that, the proposal would have to be brought to council to get more direction. If it’s approved at that point, it would then have to be factored into the city budget. It’s unlikely any changes would be in the works before 2019.
More details on the proposed changes to 72nd Avenue can be found at delta.ca/your-government/delta’s-projects/neighbourhood-road-improvements-plan/72-avenue-four-laning-(bnsf-overpass-to-120-street).