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Highway 1 widening project to take years longer, cost $140M more than expected

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Frustration is growing over a major traffic bottleneck on Highway 1 through Langley.

It turns out the new completion date for widening the freeway through that corridor is still years away.

And project costs have skyrocketed.

“Highway 1 is a critical corridor and is a bit of a nightmare,” said Cory Redekop, of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.

That’s because the stretch of freeway is often clogged with traffic.

“We’ve got businesses trying to get goods to stores, people trying to get to jobs. Half of the day you can’t use it because you’re in gridlock,” Redekop explained. “It is the number one concern for traffic, transportation in the region."

Originally, an additional lane in each direction was to be added by next spring at a cost of $205.5 million.

But a new sign on the highway now says the costs have climbed to $345 million. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said substantial completion of the project won’t be until 2026.

“We have delays that, again, weren’t anticipated, but they had to managed, around soil conditions," said Transportation Minister Rob Fleming. "The geotechnical studies of that phase … did encounter some soil conditions that had to be managed."

A statement from the ministry to CTV News said that “the detailed design for highway improvements has resulted in an increase in costs, including a significant increase in construction and other associated costs as a result of global inflation since the initial estimate.”

When asked, the ministry also stated that “there was a contract that began in 2021 for advance works, which included pre-loading of soil in preparation for major construction; however, under mutual agreement the contract ended early."

"This has not impacted the progress of the overall project," it said. “Much of the remaining pre-loading and clearing work has since been completed. Remaining locations identified for preloading of soil will be addressed prior to the start of major construction next year.”

Langley Township's mayor said he also gets many complaints about delays in the highway widening project.

“It’s pretty painful on a lot of days,” said Mayor Eric Woodward. “It’s really unfortunate to see that having lingered for so many years. It’s affecting the quality and daily life of so many residents.”

He added that he’s one of the drivers stuck in highway delays on a regular basis.

“I understand why the residents are frustrated,” he said.

Fleming said he understands the frustrations and knows the upgrades can’t come soon enough.

But he also said he was “pleased to be part of a government putting in the most significant investments in Highway 1 since the 1960s.”

He said once complete, the corridor will have dedicated transit lanes, more capacity, “and for the shift toward active transportation, alongside the highway, we’re going to have a separate multi use pathway for pedestrians and cyclists to use too.”

The contract to widen Highway 1 between 216th and 264th streets is expected to go to tender early in 2024. 

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