Is the Highway 1 expansion on schedule?

More than 30km of roadway west of the completed 216 Street interchange need to be widened to reach Whatcom Road in Abbotsford by the 2026 deadline.

By Joti Grewal | December 15, 2022 |5:00 am

Construction on Highway 1 may have slowed but the province maintains the expansion project is on schedule.

A new 216 Street interchange, including widening 4km of roadway west of the interchange, was completed in September 2020. But substantial work remains to widen the highway all the way through Abbotsford. More than 30km of roadway still needs to be upgraded to reach Whatcom Road.

The province hopes to complete the project by 2026. That leaves only three years to widen the remainder of the highway, replace the Glover Road crossing, the CP Rail crossing, and the 232 Street interchange.

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The BC Liberal government first announced plans to widen Highway 1 through Langley in 2017. Later that year, the NDP government took office and announced that the plan was under review.

The news left commuters idling.

Despite the NDP’s decision to review the highway widening before re-announcing the plans in 2019, work on a new 216 Street interchange had already begun in 2017. That phase was completed in September 2020.

Last month, construction began on the second phase of the project: the 10km stretch of roadway between 216 and 264 streets.

Highway 1 at 264 Street is notorious for car crashes. The junction is the single worst collision site in the region. In the last five years, more than 1,000 crashes have been recorded on that stretch of road—greater than any other area in the valley, according to ICBC statistics. (We wrote about the valley’s most dangerous roadways. Read that story here.)

Planned work between the Langley airport and 264 Street exit is extensive. The highway will be widened to accommodate high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in both directions. Crews will replace the 232 Street interchange, a CP Railway crossing, and the Glover Road crossing.

Overpass clearance has been an increasing issue in the area. The new replacement bridge will provide about 70cm of more clearance.

A stretch of Glover Road will be closed to traffic during construction. Detours are expected to be in place by early next year. (Find a detour map here.) Construction of the new crossing is set to be complete by summer 2024.

HIGHWAY WIDENING TO ABBOTSFORD

Plans to expand east of Langley were announced roughly two years ago.

The final phase of the expansion project will widen 22km of highway from 264 Street to Whatcom Road.

The details of that are less defined. It wasn’t included in the original expansion plans.

Fraser Valley mayors called for highway improvements to be extended into Abbotsford after plans were announced for Langley. The request to expand the highway further east was taken to the Union of BC Municipalities convention in 2020. There, the province endorsed expanding the highway as far as Whatcom Road by 2026.

Planning for the final phase of highway widening to Whatcom Road is underway, the ministry said. And last year’s flooding could play a role in how and when the road is widened between Sumas Way/Highway 11 and Whatcom.

Last year’s floods submerged Highway 1 between Sumas Way and Whatcom Road. It was the second time in the last three decades that the Whatcom Road interchange was flooded.

Experts are now considering and discussing the need to raise the roadway, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming told The Current in a recent interview. That could be done in conjunction with flood management programs or as part of the approved plans to widen the highway through Abbotsford.

The widening could be done in phases, with Fleming suggesting that improvements east of Sumas Way could come last.

Other improvements through Abbotsford could include adding HOV lanes in each direction, and replacing major interchanges at Sumas Way and Whatcom Road, along with the Peardonville and Bradner road underpasses.

—with files from Tyler Olsen


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Joti Grewal

Reporter at Fraser Valley Current

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