Residents in UBE discussions suggest closing Braid Street at the train tracks

Forget building the United Boulevard Extension (UBE), the answer could be closing off Braid Street at the train crossing just east of Brunette Avenue.

That was one of the solutions suggested by Sapperton residents at a pair of public consultations last week.

Peter Van Garderen, a director of the McBride-Sapperton Residents Association, said the issue is the bottleneck of traffic at Braid and Brunette. Much of that can be alleviated, he said, with the completion of the new King Edward overpass connecting the Lougheed Highway to United Boulevard in Coquitlam as well as the improved Brunette freeway overpass.

Once they’re done traffic could be diverted to them and eliminate the need to connect Braid to United via the train crossing and the one-lane bailey bridge, said Van Garderen, making the extension unnecessary.

“Is this (UBE) going to be a giant white elephant? It will only increase the problem because more people will take that route,” he said.

TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie, however, said the suggestion was not the only one made at last Wednesday’s second session.

“It would not be accurate to say that was the consensus in the room. There were divergent opinions,” he said.

He pointed out another table suggested a new Pattullo Bridge be built from Surrey to Brunette via Sapperton Bar, an idea first looked at by TransLink in 2008.

Hardie said about 70 residents attended both the first consultation on March 12 and last Wednesday. TransLink, he said, knew about the problems from a transportation network point of view but not necessarily from the community’s.

“We certainly heard there are problems to be solved such as rat running, congestion and noise,” said Hardie. “What was really amazing is how hard the people were working because they were involved in an effort to come up with something.

“Maybe we can hit a home run that can satisfy everyone totally, or maybe we come up with a something that might not totally work for everybody but is a consensus that is the best we can do.”

Van Garderen said for the most part the meetings were relatively good exchanges between both sides.

“In the past there has been a big disconnect between TransLink versus what the community wants, and what the United Boulevard Extension will solve,” said Van Garderen.

To him, TransLink’s attitude is the extension is going to happen just because it will get $65 million for the $140-170 million project from the federal government. It is money that may be pulled back by the federal government—which has already extended its deadline twice—if a solution isn’t found. Previous concepts put forward by TransLink have been rejected by the City of New Westminster forcing the extensions.

Van Garderen says TransLink wants to go ahead even though it doesn’t have the funds to proceed with other projects affecting the same traffic flow, such as North Fraser Perimeter Road, Pattullo Bridge replacement and Front Street improvement.

The second phase of consultations will be held next month at the Sapperton Pensioners Hall, 318 Keary St. There will be a discussion of TransLink’s initial concepts arising out of last week’s sessions on Wednesday, April 13 from 6:30 p.m. That will be followed by a discussion of the refined concepts on Saturday, April 30, 9:30 a.m. to noon. The recommended solution will be identified on Wednesday, May 11.

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