Agreement reached over Brunette interchange
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
New Westminster and Coquitlam have created a task force on the Brunette interchange, after the provincial government began creating a formal project plan for the roadway. The task force will be co-chaired by both mayors from New Westminster and Coquitlam, and will contain two councillors and two experienced engineers or transportation staff from each city.
The task force is undertaking three alternative proposals for the interchange, with a report expected from the task force by February 27. All three proposals will share a common theme—to focus on making Brunette a direct corridor between New Westminster and Coquitlam, and to divert regional traffic elsewhere.
For New Westminster, keeping Brunette accessible for ambulances to go to and from the Royal Columbian Hospital is a top priority. As for Coquitlam, improving the flow of traffic through the community of Maillardville is key, as well as not having any negative impacts on local businesses.
The interchange has been the cause for heated debates between the two municipalities in the past, with both cities having gone to court and arbitration.
“The hope is that we might be able to choose an option,” Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart told the Tri-City News. “It might be a blend of options, [and] it would be something that enables both communities to achieve what we want to achieve.”
The provincial project website states: “Improving the Brunette overpass is critical for moving people and goods in this area and for private and emergency vehicles accessing Royal Columbian Hospital. Currently, this interchange is often a bottleneck on the Highway 1 corridor, especially at peak times.”
Brunette, which has an average of 60,000 vehicles passing through it daily, has been problematic for collisions, which can often lead to the interchange being idle for hours. Brunette also hosts the highest number of crashes in Coquitlam, according to ICBC data.
The interchange has also been problematic for those who utilize public transportation at Braid Skytrain station, as pedestrians have long had struggle accessing the station.
“Given the potential impacts of a new Brunette Avenue interchange, it is critical that we work together to ensure the best interests of our respective communities are kept front and centre,” New Westminster mayor Jonathan Cote said to the New Westminster Record.
Until a plan is decided on, there are no speculative completion dates for the interchange.