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Transforming 60 kilometres of Highway 1 in B.C. no easy feat

Grant Cameron
Transforming 60 kilometres of Highway 1 in B.C. no easy feat
COURTESY BC MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE — Construction crews are presently widening a 10-kilometre stretch of the busy Highway 1 in B.C. between a new interchange being built at 216th Street in the Township of Langley and an interchange at 264th Street.

Highway 1 construction work is well underway on the second leg of a multi-phase project to improve the road and reduce gridlock along a 60-kilometre stretch in the Lower Mainland of B.C.

Crews are presently widening a 10-kilometre stretch of the busy highway between a new interchange being built at 216th Street in the Township of Langley and an interchange at 264th Street.

It’s one of four projects planned along Highway 1 in the Fraser Valley through the Sumas Prairie to Chilliwack. Earlier, work was completed on the first leg of the project, which included improving four kilometres of the thoroughfare stretching from 202nd Street to 216th Street.

“The Fraser Valley is growing fast, and people need to be able to get to work and back home without facing lengthy commutes,” explains Dave Crebo, communications director at the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MTI). “The province is taking action to relieve traffic congestion and accommodate more sustainable transportation options.

“We’re adding HOV lanes between 216th and 264th roads, a new Glover Road overpass, a new interchange, as well as other improvements.”

The segment of highway is operating at capacity during peak periods and there are vertical clearance issues for commercial vehicles. An interchange configuration at 232nd Street no longer operates well under current traffic volumes and will only get worse as volumes increase.

The highway is being widened to accommodate eastbound and westbound high occupancy HOV and EV lanes.

Crews are also building a new crossing over Highway 1 at Glover Road. Concrete pouring for the deck has been completed and the span is expected to open this summer.

Further to the east, an existing railway crossing is set to be replaced and at 232nd Street an interchange will be reconfigured to provide more clearance over the highway. Construction on the interchange project is expected to start this year, with substantial completion set for 2026.

Advance works for the first part of the third leg of the project, which entails improving 13 kilometres of Highway 1 between the 264th Street interchange and Mt. Lehman Road in Abbotsford, began last fall with tree clearing, soil removal in the median and utility relocation.

More than $2.4 billion has been earmarked for the work, making it one of the most expensive provincial projects in B.C. The SkyTrain Expo Line extension and George Massey Tunnel projects are $4 billion each, the SkyTrain Millennium Line is $2.8 billion and replacement of the Pattullo Bridge is $1.4 billion.

The highway traditionally comes to a bottleneck at 264th Street every day. One lane will be added in each direction and plans include a truck climbing lane in certain areas along the highway.

“Along with property acquisition, motorists are seeing utility relocation, median soil removal, tree clearing, and preload activities,” says Crebo.

A new interchange slated to be built at 264th Street is expected to begin by the end of this year. Three teams – Aecon-Norland General Partnership, KEA Fraser Valley Connectors, and Metro Vancouver (Infrastructure) Partnership – have been shortlisted to submit bids on the project.

Other work will include upgrades to an interchange at Mt. Lehman Road and 3.7 kilometres of highway widening, and replacement of the Bradner Road overpass with 3.9 kilometres of highway widening.

The contracts will be going to tender this spring and should be completed in 2029.

The second part of the third leg will include improvements to eight kilometres of Highway 1 from Mt. Lehman Road to Highway 11. The project is presently in the design development stage. Advanced works began last fall and included tree cleaning and relocation of utilities.

Funding for the work has not been estimated and will be confirmed as the project scope is defined.

The project will include adding HOV and EV lanes and bus-on-shoulder lanes in each direction, replacement of the Peardonville Road underpass, and a new interchange at Highway 11.

The final leg of the project is in development and will include improvements to a 17-kilometre stretch from the Highway 11 interchange through the Sumas Prairie into Chilliwack. The plan is to widen the highway. The provincial and federal governments are working with local government and First Nations to develop a regional flood mitigation strategy through the Sumas Prairie.

The scope of the Highway 1 construction project originally entailed three phases but was later expanded to include the fourth phase into Chilliwack.

“This additional phase will ensure infrastructure in the Fraser Valley is more resilient to a changing climate,” Crebo says.

Because the highway is a main thoroughfare, work is being staged to limit the impact of construction on traffic.

“Eighty thousand vehicles a day travel this corridor, and we understand the frustration that a 30-kilometre-long construction zone would cause, which is why the project is being undertaken in four phases,” says Crebo.

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