Light rail’s fine, just leave 104th Avenue alone: resident

SURREY – Vehicles whiz up and down 104th Avenue at roughly 3:30 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon.

 

It’s not quite rush hour but the busy corridor is already packed.

 

The City of Surrey is considering the idea of reducing the number of lanes on 104th to make way for its planned LRT system – but the thought of that is mindboggling to Guildford resident Derek Coughtrey.

 

The 80-year-old resident has lived near 103A Avenue and 142nd Street for 34 years and says it would be "total gridlock" if 104th Avenue were to go down to one lane in either direction.

 

Coughtrey noted the road feeds traffic to the Port Mann Bridge and leads directly to both Guildford Town Centre and the Trans-Canada Highway.

 

"If you try to squeeze all that traffic into one lane, it’s going to be an impossible situation," he said.

 

In Surrey’s advertisements promoting a "Yes" vote in the current transportation plebiscite, the city touts a reduction in congestion, but Coughtrey sees lane reduction on 104th as the opposite.

 

"You’re going to reduce congestion by taking a lane off a busy road?" he asked.

 

"I can live with it if they want to put atgrade level, as long as you leave the roads alone or widen the roads to accommodate everything."

 

Roughly two years ago, B-Line bus service began along 104th and Coughtrey is of the opinion that they satisfy demand.

 

He said he’s been in touch with city staff and has emailed council about his concerns.

 

While he’s upset at the idea of lane loss, he’s more frustrated about feeling his concerns aren’t being listened to.

 

"No one will listen, they don’t give a damn," he said. "Take it or leave it kind of thing. It’s that attitude… We’re supposed to have community input."

 

While nothing is finalized, Surrey’s rapid transit and strategic projects manager Paul Lee said it’s "not an unrealistic assertion" to say 104th Avenue will see lane loss to accommodate the planned light rail system.

 

Lee said King George Boulevard and Fraser Highway – the other two corridors LRT is planned to run along – would "definitely maintain two lanes" in either direction, with turning lanes, but the same couldn’t be said for 104th Avenue.

 

He couldn’t promise there would be "no lane loss from end to end," noting "parts of the roadway is too tight."

 

The city is in the process of finalizing alignment plans for LRT on 104th Avenue, and costing it out. More concrete plans are expected later this year.

 

Surrey’s proposed 27-kilometre LRT network would connect City Centre to Guildford on 104th Avenue, City Centre to Newton on King George Boulevard and City Centre to Langley on Fraser Highway.

 

During her election campaign last year, Mayor Linda Hepner promised to have operational light rail in the city by 2018.

 

areid@thenownewspaper.com