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Construction beginning on project that aims to ease Highway 1 gridlock in Fraser Valley

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Preliminary work is now underway to widen a section of Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley.

But relief for drivers is still many years away. The $2.34 billion improvement project for the highway between 264th Street in Langley and Mt. Lehman Road in Abbotsford won’t be complete until 2029.

“They should have widened the road 50 years ago,” said Cameron Edwards, who has to get around the Lower Mainland for his job as an electrician.

“It comes to a bottleneck at 264th every day,” he said.

The project will see new HOV lanes as well as a newly configured 264th Street interchange.

“This highway needs to be widened. It is beyond its capacity and we need to make it more efficient for goods movement,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming.

Abbotsford’s mayor, who said the city has been lobbying to get the highway widened for more than 15 years, said the expansion is long overdue.

“We’re talking about the movement of goods and services, not just people. It’s vital to the provincial economy. Everything that comes into the Port of Vancouver travels through Abbotsford,” said Mayor Ross Siemens.

The provincial government is planning to add one lane in each direction and a new truck climbing lane at certain points along the highway.

Siemens would like to see four lanes extended straight through and said Abbotsford remains in talks with the Transportation Ministry.

“If we can get those four lanes, the truck climbing lane is vitally important and the bus on shoulder lane is vitally important,” said Siemens.

Fleming also wants to ensure buses aren’t trapped in gridlock traffic.

“Right now, transit vehicles are stuck in the same traffic that everybody else is, so having bus on shoulder lanes is a key part of this project as well,” he said.

Farther west in Langley, lane-widening work is still not complete between 216th and 264th streets.

“It bottlenecks there too most mornings and evenings,” said Jay Schultz, who works as a driver.

Edwards agrees.

“It goes from four lanes down to two for no reason right there,” Edwards said.

A sign posted in 2022 showed that highway widening in this area was supposed to be finished by next spring. The sign posted now has a completion date of fall 2024.

Meanwhile, drivers like Schultz said they are grateful the freeway is expanding.

“I drive between Surrey and Abbotsford every day and (264th) is the slowdown area every day,” said Schultz.

“We get our regular chronic traffic pains, I guess," added Edwards. "You get used to it, but it seems to get worse every year."

More than 80,000 motorists use the highway between Langley and Chilliwack every day.

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