A new $30-million interchange at Highway 91 and 72 Avenue is set to begin construction this fall, as part of a larger plan to ease congestion on the Alex Fraser Bridge.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone made the announcement in the shadow of the bridge Wednesday morning, saying the province is also launching an engineering review on whether a rush-hour counterflow lane system might help for the morning and afternoon commutes.
“The Alex Fraser is a critical crossing in our transportation network here in the Lower Mainland,” Stone said, noting that it supports about 8,000 vehicles in the morning rush, and 9,000 in the afternoon.
The province will be providing $20 million in funding, with the federal government providing $10 million. The new interchange is expected to be completed by the fall of 2018.
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said the highway improvements can’t come quickly enough as the current traffic conditions are not acceptable.
“I drive this intersection every day and these further improvements are really required to address the issue of good movements and provide a more efficient flow of commuter traffic. It’s amazing to me that these improvements that we’re making have not even been addressed by the mayors’ council in their 10-year plan.”
The review of a counterflow system, like that successfully used at the George Massey Tunnel, “could involve the establishment of a seventh lane through the removal of shoulders,” Stone said.
“We think that that particular strategy shows a great deal of promise so we’re expediting the engineering work now to validate that particular strategy as one worthy of moving forward.”
In the short-term, three more tow trucks will be placed on standby, and their on-site hours will be increased to clear stalled or broken-down vehicles.
Another engineering review will also be conducted into a delay-time system to provide reliable travel information about Fraser River crossings so drivers have time to adjust their route accordingly. Dynamic message signs installed at strategic locations along the highway.
Highway patrols will also be increased to monitor for congestion, incidents, safety issues and debris removal.
Talks will continue with the federal government and the Port of Vancouver about new interchanges at the Nordel and Sunbury areas of Highway 91 and Highway 17.
The public is invited to an open house about the interchange project at Highway 91 and 72 Avenue on Thursday, June 23, from 3:30 to 8 p.m. at the North Delta Rec Centre, 11415 84 Ave.