Some Walnut Grove residents marched against the 216th Street interchange plan in September.

Langley Year in Review: Interchange irks Walnut Grove residents

Hundreds marched against an overpass over the last year.

In Langley’s recent history, roads, bridges, and overpasses have often sparked heated debate, and 2016 proved to be no different.

Some residents of Walnut Grove, particularly those close to 216th Street, vigorously opposed a planned interchange as the start of construction grew nearer.

The plans for the new interchange on the Trans Canada Highway were announced as part of a flurry of spending just before the 2015 federal election.

But it wasn’t until April at an open house that the criticism of the $59 million project broke into the open.

Graeme Harfman circulated a petition calling on the Township to stop the 216th Street interchange project until a new transportation plan was approved for Walnut Grove.

He and others argued against allowing a large increase in traffic north on 216th, past single family homes and the two elementary schools.

“It’s out of balance,” Harfman told the Langley Advance in April.

Safety of children and pedestrians, noise, and pollution were all concerns raised in numerous visits to Langley Township council and letters to the editor.

Those in opposition suggested a number of alternatives, including not connecting the interchange on the north of the highway, of building it farther east at Glover Road, or of banning trucks from heading through Walnut Grove.

In September, a march drew several hundred residents to 216th Street in opposition to the interchange.

There were those in favour – especially residents in Willoughby, who approved of a project to ease traffic congestion at 200th Street and 208th Street.

A B.C. Ministry of Transportation report ruled out alternative sites and, with funding already in place, no level of government looked inclined to change course.

Construction is expected to start in 2017, and to finish 18 months later in 2019.

 

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