Surrey transit options: Hunt wants Cloverdale curve

Any rapid transit line built down the Fraser Highway to Langley better take a dip south into the heart of Cloverdale, Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt says.

Rendering of at grade rail along King George Highway at 96 Ave. in Surrey.

Any rapid transit line built down the Fraser Highway to Langley better take a dip south into the heart of Cloverdale, Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt says.

He was responding to TransLink’s latest set of routes and options for SkyTrain, light rail or Bus Rapid Transit expansion in Surrey.

The maps include several scenarios for lines running straight down the Fraser Highway from Surrey’s City Centre to downtown Langley.

That’s not good enough, Hunt said.

“We’re delivering nothing to Cloverdale in this plan,” he said. “What we’re doing is delivering LRT to Langley, not Cloverdale.”

Any Fraser Highway line should bend down to 64 Avenue in Cloverdale (possibly at 168 or 176) and then run straight east, he said, adding that would allow a better connection to the Cloverdale downtown, possibly via a planned local tram there.

“At 64th you’re close enough to the town centre,” Hunt said. “We can use the historic streetcar to pull people into downtown Cloverdale. And they’re right there for anything that happens at the fairgrounds.”

It’s critical to connect as many Surrey town centres as possible, added Coun. Barinder Rasode.

“You can’t just focus on three or two points in the community,” she said. “We have to connect the dots a bit more.”

TransLink infrastructure planning manager Jeff Busby defended the Fraser Highway alignment, saying it meshes better with projections Clayton will gain much more population over the long term than Cloverdale.

“Clayton is actually developing at very significant densities,” he said. “Cloverdale will be the lowest growth town centre even though it’s experiencing pretty significant growth today. That’s largely going to be built out.”

Busby said the direct route down Fraser Highway is more efficient than a bend further south.

Of the options presented by TransLink, Hunt and Coun. Linda Hepner said they generally support one dubbed LRT1, which features three light rail arms radiating from City Centre to Guildford, to Langley City via Fraser Highway and to Newton, with a Bus Rapid Transit spur running south to White Rock via King George Boulevard and 152 Street in South Surrey.

At a price tag of $2.1 billion it’s the most expensive of the 10 options tabled.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) would run like light rail in its own guideway in the middle of the road but using buses at much less cost, with potential to eventually convert to light rail.

Most of the other variants would replace some or all of the light rail segments with cheaper BRT or truncate major sections, such as the lines from Newton to White Rock or the Langley line along Fraser Highway. Those modifications could cut the capital cost to as little as $650 million.

SkyTrain options include a single $1.95-billion line down Fraser Highway to Langley City (RRT1), a single $900-million line south to Newton (RRT3) or the Newton SkyTrain extension plus BRT legs to Langley and Guildford (RRT2) for $1.4 billion.

Not included is the old Interurban corridor, which swooshes south and then east in a crescent from Scott Road Station through Newton, Sullivan and Cloverdale. Planners say it wouldn’t serve the most populous parts of Surrey in the future and would require much more costly widening than the road corridors. They do support preserving the route for less-intensive uses such as heritage rail.

TransLink is asking for public feedback on its findings. (See routes and analysis at www.translink.ca/en/Be-Part-of-the-Plan/Public-Consultation/Surrey-Rapid-Transit-Study.)

Eventually building the Surrey-area rapid transit network depends on area mayors hatching a new deal with the province to find new revenue sources for TransLink, such as a controversial vehicle levy or road pricing.

Even with an agreement soon, it’s unlikely the new system could be running before 2020.

Decisions on the route and technology will be up to the TransLink board, provincial government and affected cities and may wait until the funding questions are resolved.

Mayor Dianne Watts, Hunt and other council members adamantly oppose elevated SkyTrain technology, saying it is more geared to quickly whisking residents out of Surrey than helping them get around it and use local amenities and services.

At-grade rail or bus would foster more commercial development because riders would be at eye level with shops and destinations.

Public workshops

Thursday, June 9 – Guildford Sheraton 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Tuesday, June 14 – Newton Seniors Hall, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Estimated travel times

*Cloverdale to Surrey Centre

SkyTrain: 31 minutes

Light Rail: 35 minutes

BRT: 36 minutes

*Includes bus connection

– Black Press

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