Even back in 2002, 16th Avenue had more accidents than Zero Avenue. That being recognized, through the installation of ‘traffic calming devices’ the council of the day, in their wisdom, chose to divert more than 3,000 cars a day onto 16th Avenue, ignoring the loud and opposing voices of hundreds of South Langley residents and taxpayers as they did so.
It has been said that, “One should never attribute malice to events that are much more easily explained by incompetence.” There are, however, certain irrefutable facts that have given long-time observers of the 16th Avenue/Zero Avenue debate cause to wonder.
Consider these points:
Zero Avenue runs the full length of Langley Municipality on its southern boundary with the United States.
16th Avenue does not.
Zero Avenue makes contact with the border crossing to the U.S., but it has no cross streets for the full length of the road.
16th Avenue has a significant number of full-blown, four-corner intersections for the full length of the road.
Zero Avenue residents live on one side of the road only and, comparatively speaking, are few in number.
16th Avenue residents live on both sides of the road and, comparatively speaking, significantly outnumber their counterparts to the south.
Zero Avenue has always been a commuter road and has long been recognized as such… even by those who live there (Langley Times, Feb. 26, 2002). This same article quotes a Zero Avenue resident as saying “the issue is about safety… but it’s also about maintaining Langley’s countryside. This is the Township’s greatest asset.”
The individual who made that comment should get out and appreciate the Township to its fullest, as it is blessed with an abundance of beautiful and much admired quiet country roads and landscapes. Actually, Zero Avenue, in much of its length, is bordered on the south by a mosquito-breeding swamp.
Two well attended Open Houses (March 26, 2002 and June 25, 2002) were proffered by the Township to discuss the Zero Avenue proposals and to receive input from those residents and taxpayers on and between 16th Avenue and Zero Avenue. Questionnaires were available which encouraged input from the taxpayers in attendance. At the March 26, 2002 meeting, 37 people were on the agenda to speak and four of those spoke in favour of the proposals, the remaining were in firm opposition. From that indication of opposition, one can extrapolate the results of the questionnaires.
The information drawn from these questionnaires, along with a 670-name petition in opposition to the proposals seem to have drawn little attention and in fact seem to have disappeared from view, with several councillors indicating “that they did not know that such a petition existed, nor had they seen the traffic studies in advance of voting on the present proposal to restrict 0 avenue traffic…” (Langley Times, November 12, 2004).
The Township engineers, in 2002, had planned to have Zero Avenue become a collector road. Council members, not an engineer among them, determined that treating an east-west connector as a country road was a preferable choice.
Both Surrey and Abbotsford did their best to discourage these pseudo-engineers, but to no avail (inter-municipal correspondence: Surrey, March 20, 2002 / Abbotsford, April 19, 2002). Even the fire chief, Wayne Markel voiced his concerns with respect to the speed humps damaging equipment and slowing response times (June, 2002).
Well, here we go again, with the talk of four-laning 16th Avenue.
Municipal residents (taxpayers) living in the southern portion of the municipality and who are 8-kms. from their closest fire hall, already pay a significant amount of money for their home insurance. Imagine any emergency vehicles attempting to cross over four lanes of 16th Avenue… just wait until the brokers get news of this little delay-maker.
A four–lane 16th Avenue would sever, cut off, amputate the entire portion of Langley Municipality that is situated south of 16th Avenue. In this portion of the municipality property values would plummet while the municipal council would struggle with the choice of roundabouts, stop lights or overpasses at each of the mile-length road intersections.
To recognize the need for Zero Avenue to be upgraded to an arterial status is a necessity. This upgrade would see funding assistance from a wide variety of sources and would cut the costs to the municipality significantly.
A sigh of relief would then come from all of those who love, appreciate and use the Campbell Valley Park and the McLean Scout Park and all of the horse trails in the area. A four-lane road through this magnificent rural area is beyond imagination. Now this is the “preservation of our countryside” and it is a true asset.
Those people who will die on 16th Avenue, if this proposal to four-lane 16th Avenue comes to fruition, will not die because of the road… roads do not kill. People will die because of human error.
With respect to the Zero Avenue/16th Avenue controversy in the past, much of that human error has been on display at the council table and has resulted in ill-informed, poorly researched, misguided, ill-conceived, ill-advised and wrongly motivated decisions being put forth and into place, completely without a solid base in reason, reality or right. As you can see, it has been done before. It must not happen again. To err is human… to make the same mistake in the face of so much valid information would be a crime.
In reference to Zero Avenue, former Mayor, Kurt Alberts, was quoted in The Province, (November 08, 2004) he says “the long-term future of the corridor may well be as a connecting east-west highway paid for by the region.”
“The ultimate solution is to widen the road. It will cost millions of dollars. It’s basically a one-sided road in terms of driveways” (intersecting roads on the Canadian side stop at the U.S. border).
“It is ideal for a major east-west corridor. In the future it makes sense,” he says.
Well that was in 2004…and the future is now.
I. McKaig, Langley