Time for rethink on Zero Avenue

Part of the solution to heavy traffic in South Langley is to remove speed bumps from Zero Avenue.

Editor: Back in 2002, 16 Avenue had more accidents than Zero Avenue (The Times, March 29, 2002).  That being recognized, through the installation of ‘traffic calming devices,’ the council of the day chose to divert more than 3,000 cars a day onto 16 Avenue, ignoring the loud 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.” However, there are certain irrefutable facts that have given long-time observers of the  debate cause to wonder.

Consider these points:

Zero Avenue runs the full length of Langley Township, on its southern boundary with the U.S. — 16 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.

Meanwhile, 16 Avenue has a significant number of full-blown, four-corner intersections.

Zero Avenue residents live on one side of the road only and, comparatively speaking, are few in number, while 16 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. (The 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 in 2002 were organized by the Township to discuss the Zero Avenue proposals, and to receive input from those residents and taxpayers on and between 16 and Zero Avenues.

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 speakers were opposed. From that indication of opposition, one can extrapolate the results of the questionnaires given to local residents.

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. Several councillors indicated in 2004 “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 Zero Avenue traffic,” (The Times, Nov. 12, 2004).

Township engineers in 2002 had planned to have Zero Avenue become a collector road. Council members, with 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. Even the fire chief, Wayne Markel, voiced his concerns with respect to the speed humps damaging equipment and slowing response times. This was in June, 2002.

Well, here we go again, with the talk of four-laning 16 Avenue.

Taxpayers living in the southern portion of the municipality, who are 8 km 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 16 Avenue.

A four–lane 16 Avenue would sever, cut off, and amputate the entire portion of the Township that is situated to the south.

In this portion of the municipality, property values would plummet. Council would struggle with the choice of roundabouts, stop lights or overpasses at each of the mile 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 who will die on 16 Avenue, if this four-lane proposal comes to fruition, will not die because of the road. Roads do not kill. People will die because of human error.

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 made, without a solid base in reason, reality or right. 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.

Former mayor Kurt Alberts said in 2004 that 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 (Zero Avenue). It will cost millions of dollars.  It’s basically a one-sided road in terms of driveways. It is ideal for a major east-west corridor. In the future, it makes sense.”

That was in 2004 — and the future is now.

I. McKaig,

Langley

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