ABBOTSFORD (NEWS 1130) — As the B.C. government launches a study into transportation in the Fraser Valley, the mayor of Abbotsford is hoping this will be the one that gets some shovels in the ground.

In a release Wednesday, the province will be examining traffic congestion and travel demand in the region, and will also consider options for new transit and transportation possibilities in the area. Housing will also be looked at in order to help with decisions around what projects should be pursued.

“Well, I just turned 70. That freeway that’s running through our city was built when I was 13, so … it hasn’t changed in all that time. And yet, the population in the Fraser Valley has probably quadrupled, maybe more than that in that same period,” says Mayor Henry Braun.

He says it isn’t just the people of his city who are impacted by the lack of improvements.

“It is terrible. Every day it’s like a parking lot. I mean literally every day. There’s a lot of transportation going into our ports – we have the largest port in Canada, and truck traffic from points east, other provinces up north – is trying to get to our ports, and they can’t. Why? Because it’s a two-lane goat track that can’t accommodate the kind of vehicles that are currently trying to get to Vancouver.”

Braun says it’s good to see the province take an interest, but it did come with some struggles.

“We hosted a meeting here with the premier and the minister at City Hall … I guess it must have been eighteen months ago now, and they came away with an understanding they didn’t have before. That’s partly because this is not an NDP riding – or ridings, we have three MLAs. And so they just didn’t have the contact or the network and I worked very hard to develop a network so that they understand the needs of the residents of this city and our greater region.”

He also admits he’d prefer to see construction work start now.

“I agree with that. I think there’s enough studies that [the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure] has done, both this government, the previous governments…I think if you ask anybody that uses a freeway, it just – it needs to happen. So I’m pleased that we’re at this point, because up until now I’m not sure there was a will to do this study.”

As for some of the first things he’d like to see done to make the Fraser Valley commute relatively smoother? “I’m hoping they will start construction in the piece on the Township of Langley up to 264th, and as soon as they’re finished that, they’re just going to keep right on going to two kilometres east of Whatcom Road. In fact, maybe they should do that all as one contract, but that’s not for me to decide.”

Braun says he doesn’t know when the study is expected to wrap up.

“I think I’m safe in saying that they’re working on this right now, in terms of the study. Now, when the study will be complete? That I don’t have, because I know they’re engaging our staff.”

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