As eastbound traffic on Highway One slowed to a crawl through Langley at 9 a.m. on the Friday of the B.C. long weekend, representatives of three levels of government gathered at an underpass beneath it to announce that a section of the busy freeway will be widened and an interchange built at 216 Street.
“By this afternoon, with the B.C. long weekend, it could take people travelling east on Highway One two hours to get to Abbotsford. We hope the widening will help ease that congestion,” said Rich Coleman, Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA.
The federal government is contributing $22.3 million to the $59 million project; the provincial government is being asked to contribute up to $22.3 million, pending Treasury Board approval and the Township of Langley is contributing $14.3 million to the interchange portion.
Coleman said public consultation on the projects will begin later this year for the widening of the highway from 202 Street to 216 Street to six lanes.
Construction of the 216 Street interchange will begin after the Township has taken the design plans to the public. Shovels will be in the ground in the beginning of 2016.
Coleman estimates the work will be complete in 18 months.
“The South Perimeter Road took less than that to complete,” he said.
“Our highway guys are getting really good at this.”
Coleman, who was at the announcement on behalf of transportation minister Todd Stone, said the construction will create 700 to 800 jobs.
The province first announced their plan to widen Highway One between Abbotsford and Langley to six lanes, back in March.
On Friday, the federal government stepped on board with funding.
MP Mark Warawa, who was scheduled to make three separate funding announcements in Langley on Friday, said the Highway One project has been in the works for a long time.
“Rich [Coleman] and I went to Township council and asked them what their number one priority was and this is what they identified,” said Warawa.
Acting mayor David Davis attended the announcement on behalf of the Township.
“I remember protesting with my father to have an exit at 216 Street is now it is happening,” said Davis. His father, Hugh, was also at the announcement.
“This will create better access to Walnut Grove, Willoughby, the Fort and to Highway One. It will ease congestion on 209 Street and 200th,” said Davis.
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Two other federal funding announcements took place in Langley on Friday, on the eve of Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling the election.
Following Langley MP Mark Warawa’s $23 million funding announcement for Highway One widening and the 216 Street interchange, he made his way to Fort Langley to hand over some money there.
Warawa announced his federal government was handing out $61,000 to the B.C. Farm Museum.
The Canada 150th Community Infrastructure Program will help fund renovations, expansions and rehabilitation to existing infrastructure at the museum.
Under the Canada 150 program, the federal government is providing $250,000 to revitalize Williams Park, $130,000 towards upgrading the ampitheatre at Willoughby Community Park and $75,000 to refurbish Langley Centennial Museum.