Walnut Grove residents pushed Langley Township council Monday to either block or mitigate the planned 216th Street highway interchange.
“The big issue is noise, of course, noise and pollution,” said Peter Kravchuke, one of the residents under the banner of Glover Road Interchange Proponents (GRIP).
The $59 million project, with federal, provincial, and Township funding, is scheduled to start this fall and finish by 2019.
Kravchuke and many others want the interchange, planned for that site for years, to move east to the Glover Road overpass.
He said it has a number of advantages, including better elevations and direct access to Trinity Western University.
Safety for pedestrians was another major theme.
“It’s not safe for our families,” said Graeme Harfman, who organized a 1,000 signature petition against the interchange.
He pointed out that there are two elementary schools on 216th Street north of the highway.
Pedestrian safety north of 91st Avenue has to be addressed, as well as traffic control, said Patrick Convey.
A quiet suburban street that intersects with 216th should be closed off to vehicle traffic, said Dave Bramley, a longtime local resident.
“We don’t want our subdivision turned into a feeder route to the highway,” Bramley said.
Some of the speakers, including Kravchuke, asked that the Township write to the province and federal government and ask that the interchange be moved. Others suggested that it should only let cars on and off to the south, where a small light industrial district is planned for the Williams neighbourhood of Willoughby.
After hearing from residents, the council voted to add $1.5 million to a $4 million fund for road improvements along 216th Street. The additional money will be used for noise attenuation.
Several people at the meeting mentioned the Cottonwood Connector and said they were told it would connect farther east.
The Cottonwood Connector was a plan in the 1980s for a bridge over the Fraser River. Eventually the province built the Golden Ears Bridge at 200th Street, but for a time there were possible plans for locations between 200th Street and Fort Langley.
Several Walnut Grove residents said they were told that the Cottonwood Connector would have been pushed through to the Trans Canada Highway at 217A street, farther from homes.
Township administrator Mark Bakken noted that some early plans for Cottonwood did include a connection from the highway near 216th Street that would have angled to the northeast.
However, those were separate from the long-term plans for an interchange at 216th Street. The highway was designed to accommodate an interchange every two miles.