TransLink’s largest Surrey project continues to change and develop
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
TransLink has released an updated plan for the construction and route of Surrey’s upcoming Light Rail Transit system.
In response to public controversy surrounding the LRT route, its path along 104th Avenue has been revised to prevent congestion and restore previously-blocked car lanes along this significant road during and after the construction of the system. Other changes include improved LRT shelters with LED lighting, larger overhangs, and ATMs, lighting on trains for improved safety, and increased public communication with businesses and private citizens who operate along the route and will be impacted by construction.
The LRT has been a controversial project since its announcement in 2015, with its opponents arguing that a full SkyTrain expansion from King George Station across Surrey would be safer and less interruptive to the existing bus routes, and that the LRT will not provide sufficient carrying capacity to justify its cost as Surrey and Langley continue to grow at a rapid rate.
The project was started under the municipal Liberal government and, as a result, received pushback as the provincial NDP government took power earlier this year. Despite this, there are no signs that the City intends to roll back on its LRT plan.
TransLink project director Stephan Mehr said TransLink is “working with the City of Surrey to make a truly integrated service,” and part of this will be syncing LRT operations with bus and SkyTrain departures, according to the Vancouver Sun. This means that during peak hours, five-minute intervals between LRT departures will line up with SkyTrain arrivals, allowing for a quick 27-minute commute along the entire route.
With these new changes, the cost of the project has risen from its original 2015 estimate of $1.03 billion to $1.65 billion.
Despite this, Mehr said that TransLink is “comfortable with the cost estimates we have now,” indicating that further major changes are unlikely before construction fully begins in late 2019.
If there are indeed no major changes to the LRT plan, its route will take it on an L-shaped path from Guildford Town Centre to Surrey City Centre, and from there it will turn south along King George Boulevard until it reaches Newton. TransLink will continue to accept public feedback for consideration until the project is formally submitted and funded later this year.
Coupled with the even larger and more expensive SkyTrain expansion along Broadway, the next several years promise to be dynamic for the all the communities of the Lower Mainland and the TransLink projects bringing them together.