South Surrey merchants say they are feeling the impact of Dec. 4 damage to the 152 overpass over Highway 99.
“This was supposed to be the money-making time for any business,” Kiran Behl, owner of the South Point Annex Cobs bakery, said Wednesday. “They need to know how badly it’s affecting all of us.”
The overpass was damaged Dec. 4 when a truck hauling car-crushing equipment northbound along Highway 99 hit the structure at around 10:30 a.m.
Since midnight the following day – after work to stabilize the overpass – traffic has been restricted to one southbound lane over the overpass, and one northbound lane on Highway 99.
Dec. 7, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure officials announced that the situation would remain “until further notice,” after a structural assessment determined the overpass requires “extensive repairs.” A further update is expected in January, a news release stated.
Behl told Peace Arch News that businesses can’t wait that long. The current situation – including a temporary median that divides northbound 152 Street traffic at Mall Access Road – is “killing us all,” she said.
Business at Cobs has dropped by about 30 per cent, approximately 70 customers per day; last week, revenues were down $2,000 to $3,000 from the same period last year, she said.
John Heras, owner of the neighbouring 7 Seas Fresh Fish Market, said his business has seen a 50 per cent drop.
Staffer Tracy Neufeld noted orders for Christmas Eve – typically the market’s busiest day of the year – are way down.
“Businesses are suffering.”
Motorists diverting through South Point Exchange – home to merchants and restaurants including Save-on-Foods, Canadian Tire and Milestones – to access 32 Avenue are adding to the grief, she said.
Neufeld said the restricted overpass access has also impacted her commute to work from Cloverdale, as TransLink has re-routed a number of its buses, including the 345, 375 and 394, away from the overpass.
Behl, local Cobs manager Heather Lastik and Cobs area manager Teriann Matheson said something needs to be done to address traffic management in the area.
They questioned why mobile traffic lights that are in place at either end of the overpass aren’t being used to enable single-lane alternating traffic.
Wednesday, a ministry spokesperson said the Dec. 7 advisory is the most recent available. She was unable to confirm by PAN deadline Thursday why alternating traffic is not being utilized.
Behl said Matheson promised to take their concerns up with the ministry Thursday.
In the meantime, she said she’ll continue to do “anything it takes to drum up business.”
UPDATE: Ministry officials told PAN just after noon that the decision to operate a single, southbound lane on the overpass was made in consultation with the City of Surrey, that repairs will take “a couple of months” to complete.
“In the meantime, we appreciate everyone’s patience while we monitor and manage traffic volumes as best as possible,” notes an emailed statement.