Discussion into one of the most pressing items on the agenda for Township’s series of meetings on Monday disintegrated when council members, after almost 10 hours of meetings, sniped at each other, interrupted each other, and questioned the wording rather than the meat, of Councillor Charlie Fox’s motion.
The intent of the motion was explore ways to improve traffic safety along 16 Avenue. The motion was placed on the agenda several days before a Surrey couple, both 76, were killed when their car struck a dump truck head-on.
The motion said that when the new Port Mann Bridge becomes fully operational and tolls are in place, more drivers will use 16 Avenue and “will bring with it greater cause for safety and access concerns.”
Noting an increase in traffic accidents that have taken lives and damaged property, Fox said that the Township should approach Surrey and the Ministry of Transportation to seek a direct access from 16 Avenue to Highway 99.
The motion also calls for staff to prepare a report, with TransLink engineers, on improving traffic flow and how it impacts residents, the possible use of ‘Green wave” in which future traffic lights are synchronized, and roundabouts.
Councillors added their own suggestions, while questioning the wording.
Fox was annoyed.
“I can’t believe that my motion is being treated as garbage,” he said.
“I’m really frustrated.”
Annoyed, he reminded council that suggestions he raised five years ago for improving 16 Avenue were turned down.
“You don’t live on the street,” said Fox, whose home is close to 16 Avenue.
“You don’t see the accidents.”
Fox said that the recent double fatality catapulted the issue to headline news, but for people who live in the area or try to access 16 Avenue, “it’s an ongoing issue.”
Fox noted that between 200 Street and 272 Street, there are only two spots where police can operate speed traps or safety checks for westbound traffic.
He said that 16 Avenue is sometimes so congested that traffic on 248 Street is backed up for more than a mile.
Councillor Kim Richter suggested that 16 Avenue should be modeled after Guide Meridian which runs from the Aldergrove/Lynden border crossing. It has been widened to four lanes, has a series of roundabouts, and is well designed to accommodate trucks.
Councillor Bob Long suggested that creating a direct access to Highway 99 would only increase traffic on 16 Avenue, while Councillor Grant Ward asked for a TransLink presentation to see what its plans are, and Councillor David Davis asked for staff to examine the issues before contacting Surrey.
The final motion approved by council, with Fox and Councillor Michelle Sparrow opposed, was for staff to examine safety issues, but not in consultation with other agencies such as the City of Surrey, the MoT and ICBC.