With a week left to go before the election, Jack Froese has pledged major upgrades to 208th Streetâ€™s overpass and possibly roadway if re-elected as Langley Township mayor.
At his press conference on Friday, he said that he would commit to widening the 208th Street overpass to four lanes during the next term of office.
The overpass, built in the late 1990s when Willoughby was still largely undeveloped, was always structurally able to accommodate four lanes, said Froese.
It would cost about $12 million to widen the roadway, he said.
Froese went on to say that it might be time to look at widening 208th Street, even without developers paying for the improvements.
One of the most contentious issues in Willoughby over the past several years has been the pace of road, sidewalk, and crosswalk improvements.
The Townshipâ€™s policy has been to fund widened roads by having developers build them along with their projects.
This has left major roads like 208th Street with wildly varying levels of completion. The street varies from four to three to two lanes and widens and shrinks several times between 72nd Avenue and 84th Avenue at the overpass.
Because some areas are years away from being fully developed, it could be some time before every section of 208th was widened under the existing policy.
â€œIt might be one of those projects where we have to dig deep and complete it,â€ Froese said.
It would cost in the millions of dollars, Froese acknowledged.
â€œWeâ€™d have to look at the cost,â€ he said, adding that a widening might take place in stages, like the widening of Fraser Highway through Murrayville and to the east.
The area to be widened would include the road south of 84th as far as 64th Avenue, including the curved stretch of road known as the Willoughby connector.
That would be a major change in policy for Willoughby. For months the majority of council has insisted that growth has to pay for itself in Willoughby, and that building infrastructure before development would lead to much higher spending levels.
Rick Green, Froeseâ€™s main opponent in the mayorâ€™s race, was critical of the new pledge on the overpass and the possibility of widening 208th Street.
â€œWhere has he been for the last three years?â€ Green said.