The $51 million Mufford overpass project had its official opening Thursday, with dignitaries from all levels of government, Port Metro Vancouver and TransLink there to mark the occasion.
The overpass opened to traffic on Aug. 18, but construction is still underway to widen Glover Road to four lanes, north to 64 Avenue. That is expected to be complete in the next couple of weeks, said Township transportation engineer Paul Cordeiro.
Several people were there for the opening including former mayor Kurt Alberts, farming pioneer Hugh Davis and two members of the Mufford family, which the overpass is named after.
Fleetwood-Port Kells MP Nina Grewal, and Abbotsford MLA Darryl Plecas spoke. Langley MLA Mary Polak, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and Delta Mayor Lois Jackson were expected to make it, but did not attend.
The Mufford project was part of a $307 million plan to build eight overpasses and one railway siding along the 70-km stretch that connects Roberts Bank, with Canada’s largest container port (Deltaport) and coal terminal (Westshore), to the North American railway network.
With the official unveiling of the Mufford Overpass, it marked the completion of all nine rail corridor projects, all done “on time and on budget,” said Grewal.
Currently, rail tracks carry up to 18 trains per day, many of them more than two kilometres long, Rail traffic is expected to increase to 28 to 38 trains a day by 2021, as the port’s capacity expands.
At the new overpass opens, plans are underway for expansion of the container terminal at Deltaport.
The new four‐lane overpass runs northeast of the existing Mufford Crescent crossing (which has now been closed), carrying vehicles above the railroad and Glover Road.
About half of the money for Mufford, $24 million, comes from TransLink.
The rest come from the province ( $12.5 million), the Township of Langley ($9.3 million), the federal government ($3.1 million) and Port Metro Vancouver ($2.1 million).
TransLink will eventually be installing high-tech rail crossing electronic billboards to alert drivers to avoid level crossings and re-route to the overpass when a train is passing through.
But first they want to monitor traffic patterns for the next couple months to determine where the best places are to put the signs, said Cordeiro.
“Feedback about the new overpass has been fairly positive. But the full benefit of the overpass hasn’t been achieved yet because Glover Road is still under construction,” he said.
Cliff Stewart, vice-president of infrastructure delivery at Port Metro Vancouver, said business is booming at the Delta Port with “no signs of slowing down.”
TransLink’s Bob Paddon remarked how critical projects like this are with Metro Vancouver’s projected population to rise to 3.4 million by 2041.
“That is 1.2 million more people with most people choosing to live right here in Langley and in Surrey. We at TransLink are here to protect our mobility and livability,” said Paddon.
The location of the Mufford Overpass was not popular, with many members of the public wanting to see the bridge address traffic that uses Highway 10.
The Township’s original proposal for the Mufford Overpass was rejected by the Agricultural Land commission, because it intruded too much on farmland.
The new overpass has less of a footprint on farmland, and also has a direct connection to Glover Road, which was not part of the original proposal.
A Highway 10 overpass was not pursued, at least in part because there was little surplus land in that location.