Chamber backs 24 Avenue interchange over 16th Avenue

Cliff Annable - File photo
Cliff Annable
— image credit: File photo

After years of lobbying for a highway traffic exchange at 24 Avenue, the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce was disappointed to learn a 16 Avenue exchange has been given priority by the provincial government.

“Twenty-fourth would have been preferable,” chamber executive director Cliff Annable said Monday. “We’ve been saying that for years.”

Annable was reacting to news reported by Peace Arch News last week that the province, city and TransLink have agreed to jointly fund $2-million worth of design work on a four-way exchange connecting Highway 99 to 16 Avenue.

Coun. Tom Gill, the chair of Surrey’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, confirmed the initiative, telling PAN that no equivalent planning agreement has been reached for the 24 Avenue crossing over Highway 99 – another South Surrey site that for several years has been earmarked for an interchange, and which now is home to Grandview Corners and Morgan Crossing.

“Ideally, we’d want both 16th and 24th (exchanges to proceed at the same time),” Gill said Sept. 24, “but I don’t think (the ministry) will fund both.”

South Surrey’s 700-member chamber of commerce, which speaks for Peninsula businesses, professionals, community organizations and residents, has been pressing for a 24 Avenue highway link since June 2009.

That was when the organization sent a letter to the provincial ministry of transportation that said the gap between the off ramps at 8 Avenue and King George Highway means potential customers traveling north from the U.S. can’t easily access the 70-acre shopping area next to the 24 Avenue overpass that includes stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Future Shop, London Drugs and Thrifty Foods.

Annable noted a highway exchange at 24 Avenue could also ease some of the congestion on 24 Avenue, where traffic often backs up from left turn lanes into oncoming traffic.

“It’s a bear (to navigate),” he said.

Annable stressed the chamber does support a 16 Avenue exchange as well, just not before 24 Avenue gets built – “16th is a close second.”

Premier Christy Clark  announced the 16 Avenue plans in her address Friday to civic leaders. However, the plan was revealed in a Sept. 14 letter sent to residents of the Cherry Brook mobile-home park at 16 Avenue and 162 Street.

“The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the City of Surrey are pleased to announce that they will be jointly funding a new interchange at Highway 99 and 16th Avenue,” said the message from Jay Porter, senior project manager with the provincial ministry.

“The project will provide improved access to Highway 99 and the community of South Surrey/White Rock and includes on- and off-ramps in all four quadrants of the intersection.”

Porter noted the project is currently at “the preliminary design stage” and promised there will be consultation with affected residents.

The cost of building the 16 Avenue intersection has been estimated at $24 million, but the actual amount won’t be known until the detailed design is complete and contractor bids received.

Plans are expected by mid-December.

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