Langley’s 208th Street re-opened to traffic in both directions on Thursday, Nov. 16 after weeks of southbound-only driving on the busy route connecting Willoughby to Willowbrook.
The Willowbrook Connector portion of the route was closed between 68th and 65th Avenues starting in September, as work began on a project to widen most of 208th Street to a full four-lanes.
The partial closure has sent some commuters west to 202A Street or 200th Street, or east, taking Glover Road out to Crush Crescent. That has caused increased traffic on some of those alternate routes at rush hours.
Work is still ongoing along the route, with crews and heavy equipment putting down the foundations of a wider road, as well as drainage works, along the east side of the connector.
As part of re-opening the connector in both directions again, drivers heading southbound won’t be able to turn left onto Mufford Crescent. They’ll have to detour by driving south to 62nd Avenue and turning there.
The project is part of an effort to widen much of 208th Street, in several phases. The work between 64th Avenue and 72nd Avenue is Phase 1, and that will have three parts.
Part one, now underway, is the section of the road from 64th to 68th Avenue. The next part will be from 68th to 72nd Avenue.
Both of those parts will include widening to four full lanes, painted and buffered bike lanes, the addition of multi-use pathways, and new street lights, as well as landscaping work.
The third part will be some work on 72nd Avenue eastbound from 208th, which will create two eastbound travel lanes and a bike lane.
Completion of this whole phase of the project has been tentatively scheduled for September 2024.
Phase 2, expected to follow, would extend the widening from 72nd Avenue up to 76th Avenue, and also include work on the 212th Street Connector, from around 74B Avenue and 208th Street northeast to 212th Street and 80th Avenue.
Design for that phase is underway.
Widening 208th Street has been a political football for years in Langley, as the growing population and density in Willoughby added more and more traffic. The current council approved funds to begin a large-scale widening project.
Under longstanding Township development policies, road widening was usually done in pieces, with each developer building out the road from the frontage of their projects.
However, as Willoughby developed, this left parts of the road between 84th Avenue and 77th Avenue widely variable – some areas had two lanes, some three, and some four, and the road widened and narrowed unpredictably.
Some properties along the route lay empty for years. One site was tied up in disagreement and litigation between its owners for more than 15 years.
Most, but not all, of the road north of 76th Avenue is now widened.