Surrey homeowners are at braking point as politicians pass buck on truck noise

SURREY — Residents in Bridgeview are dealing with a lot of noise – both from the engine brakes being used on the South Fraser Perimeter Road and the city and the province shuffling the responsibility for it.

Since the finalization of the 40-kilometre, four-lane stretch of road, known also as Highway 17, residents Ruth and Ken Reiter have noticed an increase at all hours of the day in the amount of noise coming from engine brakes. Calls to the City of Surrey have been referred to the province, and vice versa.

"I’ve talked to everybody, and everybody is passing the buck on me," Ruth said.

The nine-year homeowners noticed a large increase in the amount of engine brake usage – or Jake brakes – in the last month-and-a-half. Ruth has been constantly calling both the City of Surrey and Victoria in the last two weeks as the noise becomes more persistent.

"I was told it’s a provincial thing and they said to phone the city," Ruth said. "I talked to everybody at the city and they said ‘Nope, once the road was done, it’s no longer a city issue.’" Prohibiting the use of engine brakes is part of the City of Surrey’s bylaw No. 13007, yet the argument is that it is a provincial road and so far neither governing body is accepting responsibility.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said that in order for a "Brake Noise" sign to be installed, the City of Surrey has to submit a request to the ministry. Once approved, the ministry will install a sign.

There is a sign warning against brake noises east of 136th Street on SFPR advising westbound traffic, yet the Reiters say that it hasn’t deterred the majority of truck drivers.

Ken believes it’s an issue of enforcement.

"It’s an urban area, it’s a flat ground and they have no reason to use their Jake brakes," he said.

It was suggested by a spokesperson at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that Ruth phone the RCMP about enforcing the use of engine brakes in urban areas. Instead, she wants somebody to come down and see what the problem is so that there can be a solution.

If drivers aren’t abiding by the signs, the Reiters would like to see a sound barrier put in place that’s more effective than the dirt wall they have now.

"It’s not a sound barrier at all," Ken said. "It’s an ugly mud fence."

The dirt wall was put in during the beginning of construction and, according to Ken, has already dropped about two feet.

Small trees have been planted at intervals along the wall, but Ruth argues that it will take 20 years for them to be effective.

She is worried about safety concerns as she sees children playing on the wall beside the highway as the wall extends down past Bridgeview Elementary.

"They told me it’s complete. But to me, it’s not complete," Ruth said.

The couple said they feel as if they’re being driven in circles and are frustrated at the lack of response.

"I don’t want your number. All I want is for someone to listen to me," Ruth said. "I’m a homeowner, I’m a taxpayer and I feel like I’m getting put on the backburner."

Surrey Coun. Tom Gill said that it was the first he’d heard of the dithering between the city and the province.

He added the issue to the committee agenda for the Monday, March 17 transportation and infrastructure meeting where they agreed to send a letter to the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure advising them of the situation.

Since interviewing the Reiters, a representative from the SFPR project scheduled a meeting to address their concerns on Tuesday, March 18.

SFPR connects the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in southwest Delta to 176th Street in North Surrey.

The project website states that it offers "an efficient transportation corridor, while restoring municipal roads as community connectors by reducing truck and other traffic on municipal and local road networks in Delta and Surrey, improving quality of life for residents and local businesses."

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