Drivers are noticing huge piles of sand and plenty of equipment roadside as they approach the Alex Fraser Bridge. It’s part of a major highway upgrade project now taking place, the Highway 91/17 and Deltaport Way Upgrade Project.
The project is a $260 million undertaking, which includes a series of roadworks aimed at increasing highway efficiency and reducing conflicts between local traffic and commercial vehicles.
“It’s a project aimed at improving safety for people and support the growing economic and trade development that’s happening south of the Fraser River,” Bowinn Ma, BC’s Minister of State for Infrastructure, told the Optimist. “This is a series of road and highway upgrades that will improve travel time and also provide a more reliable route through Delta for not just local residents, but commercial truck drivers, transit operators, first responders and other travellers as well. We’re seeing the growth in economic activity around the port and what that means is a lot of the existing infrastructure is no longer sufficient or appropriate for handling the kinds of movements that we’re seeing through that area.
“Right now, what people will see on site is sand piles, or preload, and that’s being used for all new roadway alignments as part of the construction of this upgrade project. Those preload piles will be there through spring of 2022 and we expect the full project to be completed by 2023.”
The upgrade will see improvements to Highway 91 at the Nordel interchange, upgrades to the Highway 91 connector at the Nordel Way intersection, a new interchange at Highway 17 and Highway 91 connector (Sunbury) and a new interchange at River Road connecting to Highway 17.
Funding partners include the Government of Canada through the National Infrastructure component of the New Building Canada Fund, the Province of British Columbia and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
Ma, who last week took part in a tour of planned major project to further widen Highway 1 corridor through the Fraser Valley, noted other highway improvement projects to get underway include recently announced Highway 99 corridor improvements.
That project will include a new Steveston interchange, additional bus-on-shoulder lanes, a new bus-only connection at Bridgeport Road and upgraded cycling infrastructure, all in advance of the George Massey Tunnel replacement.
As far as the tunnel replacement, Ma noted a business case for a preferred option has been prepared but her government is still currently still in talks with the federal government regarding funding.
An announcement about that project will come once those discussions conclude.
“When it comes to transportation improvement programs, our government is also taking a much more forward-looking, multi-model approach,” she said. “We know that with the type of growth we’re seeing out in the Fraser Valley and the heavy dependent on cars, we need to make it easier for people to have more choices about the way that they travel, so, that means making public transit more competitive and helping communities grow in a more compact way to enable people to live close to where they work, to go to school close to where they live and to have childcare close to schools and so forth, so that they’re not needing to be on the road 50 km a day to be able to go about their lives.”