Don’t include 16 Avenue east of King George Boulevard in South Surrey in your local travel plans any time soon.
The busy main route closed to traffic this week in the vicinity of construction of the new Highway 99/16 Avenue interchange – and can be expected to stay that way through the summer, according to the Ministry of Transportation.
Truck traffic is being diverted to 8 Avenue, and the move can also be expected to boost traffic volume on both 8, 24 and 32 avenues, plus King George Boulevard and 176 Street, for the five months required for completion of Phase 1 of the project.
The first phase includes demolition of the existing overpass and construction of a new six-lane overpass, plus widening of 16 Avenue to four lanes between King George and the freeway.
According to ministry spokesperson Kate Trotter, preparations for demolition of the old structure, expected to take place later this month, have begun.
“During demolition, Highway 99 will be reduced to single-lane traffic in each direction via a median crossover,” she said.
“This will take place in windows between 7 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Monday.”
Contracts for the second phase of the $24-million project, including construction of all four on/off ramps and noise barriers for the west side of Highway 99, are expected to be awarded this month. The overall project is expected to be complete by October 2014.
Although the effects of the 16 Avenue closure will likely snarl traffic on surrounding routes, the ministry insists it’s the best solution for expediting the project.
“By closing 16 Avenue, the construction of the new structure can be completed in half the time; costs savings associated with traffic control and work efficiencies can be realized,” the ministry website says, adding that “impact to nearby habitat and private property is minimized.”
The City of Surrey has contributed funding for project design and engineering work for the interchange.
The plan was adapted to include left turns off 16 Avenue on either side of the new overpass, after nearby residents expressed concerns, at the Nov. 1 project open house, that they would not have adequate access to their homes.
According to the ministry, benefits of the plan include better access to Highway 99, improved connectivity between South Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford, and better accommodation of increasing cross border traffic.
The ministry also sees the plan resulting in a partial easing of truck travel on municipal roads, particularly 32 Avenue.