Upgrading 208th Street in Willoughby to its full planned four-lane width would cost Langley Township more than $46 million, says a new report.
The report recommends continuing with the current strategy for acquiring land and building new roads, although that could take many years to finish all of the major corridor.
Traffic issues on 208th Street have been a sore spot for many of the new residents who have flocked to the area over the last decade. Willoughby is now the Township’s largest neighbourhood by population, with more than 25,000 residents, almost a quarter of the total population.
However, 208th Street is only widened in areas where development has taken place. Long stretches of it remain the same two-lane rural road it was before the 208th Street overpass was built in 1999. At the time, 208th Street was a relatively quiet dead-end road that served a neighbourhood of acreages and hobby farms.
The report notes that while the current approach is “fiscally prudent” it gives the Township no control over the speed at which road improvements take place.
“As properties do not necessarily develop in sequential order, this can lead to a segmented widening, where some sections of the road fronting a particular development project may be upgraded and some other sections along the same road where there is no development activity may remain unimproved,” said the report.
The document includes maps showing which sections are anticipated to be widened in one to three years, three to five years, or more than five years.
The entire stretch between 76th and 72nd Avenues isn’t expected to be widened for more than five years.
Most of the land between 80th and 76th is expected to be developed, and the roads widened, in the next one to three years.
Several sections, including the Willowbrook Connector curve that leads down to 64th Avenue, doesn’t have development potential, and would likely have to be built at Township expense.
During last year’s civic election, Mayor Jack Froese promised to widen the 208th Street overpass to four lanes. The Township has started planning work on that project, which will cost an estimated $12.6 million.
Froese also mused that perhaps it was time to look at widening 208th Street, but he did not promise that it would happen.
“We’d have to look at the cost,” Froese said at the time.