As Langley City contemplates upgrading water and sewer pipes that are almost a century old, locals and merchants are discussing what Fraser Highway’s one-way section should look like after the work is done.
A City-wide consultation is being launched on the future of the one-way section of Fraser, which forms the heart of the downtown business district.
Project manager Doug Hyde said there’s a lot of old infrastructure under the downtown core that needs replacing.
“The sewer dates back to the 1920s, and the water dates back to the 1930s,” he said.
The pipes are “beyond repair,” so they need a complete replacement, along with the service connections to individual buildings.
There is also a complication that dates back to the Second World War.
When the federal government feared that Imperial Japan might invade the West Coast, they decided to build in some military infrastructure.
“They built a slab of concrete along the entire Fraser Highway corridor that had sufficient capacity to take the weight of a loaded tank,” said Hyde.
The slab is from 15 to 20 centimetres thick and runs under the westbound lane of most of Fraser Highway in the City. It’s too big to economically jackhammer up.
Fortunately, the pipes run under the eastbound lane, but all construction will have to work around the slab.
Hyde said the project could start as soon as 2019. Right now, the public and local merchants are being surveyed on what they want to see after all the work is done.
There are concerns and worries by local businesses, said Teri James, a former Langley City councillor and current executive director of the Langley Downtown Business Association (LDBA).
The construction may mean a real impact on businesses in the downtown area. A similar project to replace utilities on 56th Avenue in the downtown last year and early this year meant months of impacts to sidewalks on either side of the street.
James said that despite the concerns, local business owners appreciate that they’ve been consulted over the last few weeks.
They do see the project as an opportunity to make the one-way section nicer in the long term, she said. James pointed to Salt Lane, which was upgraded after similar infrastructure improvements some years ago.
As for what businesses would like to see, “It’s obviously varied, between the different businesses,” James said.
Now the project is gathering general public opinion.
An online survey, Fraser Highway One-Way Consultation, will be open until July 16. The survey asks for feedback on a range of improvements, from gathering spaces, to public art, to lighting. It also asks residents to share what they like most about the current One-Way.
Hyde noted that everything from lighting to street signs to patios and pubic spaces could be changed or upgraded.
Parking changes are currently being developed as well.