The City of Abbotsford has a plan to deal with persistent traffic problems on Fraser Highway, but it will take more than a decade for its full $53 million vision to be completely realized.
Council gave the thumbs up Monday to a three-phase approach to improve the road over the next 15 or so years.
The first phase would see left-turn and centre lanes added in the coming years, to be followed by the four-laning of Fraser Highway from Mt. Lehman to just west of Ross Road, likely around the year 2025. By 2030, the strategy envisions the full Abbotsford stretch of the road being widened to four lanes.
The first phase of left- and centre-turn lanes is expected to cost $7 million, and the city applied earlier this year for federal money for the bulk of that – $6 million.
The larger costs will come when the road is actually set for widening.
To four-lane Fraser Highway to Ross Road is expected to cost $18 million in 2017 dollars. Widening the rest would be even more expensive: $28 million in today’s dollars.
Mayor Henry Braun said he expects the first improvements, which the city hopes take place next year, to have a significant effect on reducing delays associated with turning vehicles.
“I think just the implementation of Phase One will improve what we see on Fraser Highway every day.”
Couns. Les Barkman and Moe Gill expressed some concern that growth in Abbotsford and other neighbouring cities to the west will continue to lead to increasing amounts of traffic and that a quicker timetable would be ideal.
“We’re only going to be back in the same place in five years, or even earlier,” Gill said.
The city will be seeking money from the federal and provincial governments for the widening project.
But with no such guarantees in place yet, Braun said financial constraints limit just how quickly the city can move forward with such a project.
“If we can find $25 million, we can accelerate the section from Fraser to Ross … but I don’t think we have the $25 million right now.”