The 248th Street highway overpass in Langley opened to traffic on Saturday, following a brief ceremony hosted by Langley politicians.
Politicians and their guests walked the new span, followed by two tractors symbolizing the importance of agriculture to the area. At the north end, Langley MLA Mary Polak and Township Mayor Jack Froese removed the last of the barriers that have been in place for most of the last eight months.
Local residents have been eagerly awaiting the full opening of the bridge, particularly in the last week after major construction largely finished.
On Friday, March 14, the new span, which has been closed for eight months, briefly opened to local traffic. Locals were pleased to be able to drive over the bridge instead of making lengthy detours to cross the Trans Canada Highway.
However, the bridge was quickly closed again. Several nearby residents contacted the Langley Advance, wondering why the functional bridge was now shut down again.
Provincial spokespeople told the Advance that the bridge had only been temporarily open while construction vehicles were moving across the span. Further work was ongoing, they said.
On Tuesday, contractors at the bridge site said they had just done their final walkthrough, and that there were still a few minor deficiencies to address.
On Friday, with the bridge still closed and few if any workers present, a press release from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced there would be a ceremony to mark the completion of the new truck-climbing lane on the highway, and the new bridge, at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Local MLAs Rich Coleman and Mary Polak and Township Mayor Jack Froese were scheduled to attend.
The ministry confirmed to the Advance that the bridge would then open.
The Advance asked whether the date and time of opening was tied to the photo opportunity with local politicians, and received this response from the ministry:
â€œFinal clean up and inspections will be underway until 11 a.m. Saturday, but the overpass will be open then.â€
The Advance then asked this question via email:
â€œIs the photo opp with politicians timed to take place to match the first moment the bridge could physically be open, or is the opening of the bridge timed to the photo opp?â€
The ministry responded as follows:
â€œThe bridge will open to traffic as soon as the ministry is able to offer uninterrupted travel for motorists while keeping the site safe for workers. Wrap up work on the project, including final inspections, will continue following tomorrowâ€™s opening. The project will be completed ahead of schedule. This will eliminate the detour that local traffic has been using for the last eight months.â€