A pair of “road zipper” trucks will begin regular operations early next week, moving the centre barrier to allow for a northbound morning counter-flow lane on the Alex Fraser Bridge. (James Smith photo)

A pair of “road zipper” trucks will begin regular operations early next week, moving the centre barrier to allow for a northbound morning counter-flow lane on the Alex Fraser Bridge. (James Smith photo)

VIDEO: Alex Fraser Bridge counterflow up and running

New movable centre barrier will give northbound drivers four lanes during the morning rush

Commuters crossing the Alex Fraser got some rush hour relief this week as the bridge’s long-awaited counterflow lane came online Monday morning.

Work crews finished reconfiguring the six dedicated northbound and southbound lanes to make room for a seventh lane and installing a movable centre barrier in mid-September, opening the new lane to southbound traffic.

On Monday (Dec. 16) the “road zipper” truck that moves the barrier made its debut, giving commuters a fourth lane northbound during the morning commute.

“We have finished the testing, we have finished the training, and the zipper will be going live early next week,” Ravi Kahlon, MLA for Delta North and Parliamentary Secretary for Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, said at a demonstration of the zipper truck on Thursday, Dec. 12. “That is excellent news for the people of my community, for the people of this region. It means that people will be saving time, precious time that they could be spending with their families.”

“It’s all positive for the region. It’s good for economic activity, it’s good for safety and, most important, it’s good for families who want to get home and spend time with their loved ones. So it’s excellent news all around.”

(Story continues after video)

The movable barrier system, a first in Western Canada, improves capacity on the bridge and eliminates potential for cross-over collisions during counterflow as traffic is continually separated by barriers, according to a press release from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Kahlon said the movable barrier is just as safe as the previous immobile concrete divider on the bridge.

“Each pillar weighs about 1,500 pounds, so yes it’s the exact same,” he said, adding the zipper truck lifts the barrier sections up and moves them over, rather than pushing or dragging the divider into place.

The extra lane will now be in effect for northbound traffic every weekday from 4:30 to 11:30 a.m. Outside of these hours, the fourth lane will be open to southbound traffic.

An average of 119,000 vehicles cross the Alex Fraser Bridge everyday, according to the ministry, with drivers experiencing lines more than three kilometres long during rush hour.

With the counter-flow system operational, the ministry expects drivers crossing the bridge northbound in the morning will save about six minutes, while those heading south during the afternoon rush will save between 12 and 16 minutes.

Ravi Kahlon, MLA for Delta North and Parliamentary Secretary for Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, announced the movable counterflow lane on the Alex Fraser Bridge will be operational “early next week” at a demonstration of the zipper truck used to move the barrier on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. (James Smith photo)

“Folks coming home from work southbound … they’ve already been saving that time and I’ve been hearing lots of positive things,” Kahlon said. “And people that are taking this route every day will tell you that five minutes, six minutes, 12 minutes, all is very important, so it’s a game changer for many people in this region.”

The ministry has two all-weather road zippers — one will be used to move the barrier, and the other will act as backup in case it is needed — and switching the direction of the counterflow lane will take about 20 minutes.

The $70-million project, first announced on Jan. 19, 2017, was partially funded by the federal government — to the tune of $33,965,000 — through the provincial-territorial infrastructure component of its New Building Canada Fund. The province picked up the tab for the remaining $36,125,000.

The project necessitated repairing the main span deck, modifying expansion joints and stiffening girders in order to strengthen the bridge to accommodate the additional weight of another lane of traffic. As well, adding the extra lane required narrowing the existing six lanes by about six inches and eliminating the shoulders. As a result, the speed limit across the bridge was lowered to 70 km/h.

Additional work included creating additional lanes southbound on Highway 91 between Nordel Way and 72nd Avenue, and upgrading the Cliveden Avenue and Nordel Way interchanges, including installing a new signal for traffic accessing the Alex Fraser Bridge northbound from Nordel Way.

Upgrades for cyclists and pedestrians include new wayfinding signs, better access via the Cliveden Avenue interchange, widening narrow sections of sidewalk on the bridge and improving the Cliveden and Nordel pathways.

Also included in the bridge improvement project is the South of Fraser Advance Traveller Information System — 13 dynamic message signs placed strategically around Metro Vancouver to advise motorists in real time of delays on the four major Fraser River crossings: the Alex Fraser, Port Mann and Pattullo bridges and the George Massey Tunnel. The signs will be located along Highway 17, Highway 1, Highway 10, Marine Way and Knight Street.

The South of Fraser Advance Traveller Information System portion of the project is expected to be finished in spring 2020.

Check out the animated video below to see how the movable counterflow barrier will work.



editor@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A pair of “road zipper” trucks will begin regular operations early next week, moving the centre barrier to allow for a northbound morning counter-flow lane on the Alex Fraser Bridge. (James Smith photo)

A pair of “road zipper” trucks will begin regular operations early next week, moving the centre barrier to allow for a northbound morning counter-flow lane on the Alex Fraser Bridge. (James Smith photo)

Just Posted

Police barricade (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey RCMP investigate shooting overnight at Whalley motel

Sergeant Elenore Sturko said a 38-year-old man was taken to hospital suffering from a serious injury

The South Point Exchange Wendy’s location was ordered closed for 10 days due to COVID-19. The closure took effect on April 9, 2021. (Google Streetview screenshot)
COVID-19 prompts 10-day closure of South Surrey fast-food restaurant

Fraser Health confirms order for South Point Wendy’s was issued April 9

Surrey School District building. (File photo)
‘We’re in a financial lockdown’: Surrey school district working with $40M budget deficit

District, board points to lack of immigration for new student enrolment

DriveBC says a vehicle incident could cause some delays on Highway 1 near 152nd Street heading westbound Thursday morning (April 15). (Map: Google Maps)
Part of HOV lane blocked on Highway 1 in Surrey

DriveBC tweets westbound lane near 152nd Street is blocked

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including South Surrey’s Pacific Highway should ‘not be left behind’

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

A deep cut on a humpback whale is shown in this recent handout photo in the Vancouver area. A conservation organization is warning boaters to be extra careful to prevent further harm to an injured humpback whale swimming in the Vancouver area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ocean Wise, Vanessa Prigollini *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boaters urged to use caution around hurt humpback off Vancouver

Ocean Wise says watchers first noticed the wound 3 days ago and believe it was caused by a vessel strike

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Most Read