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Port Coquitlam council picks Devon Road for Fremont Connector

Pick the route now, figure out the details later. That was the decision by Port Coquitlam city council Monday as it drew its line for the future Fremont Connector.

Pick the route now, figure out the details later.

That was the decision by Port Coquitlam city council Monday as it drew its line for the future Fremont Connector.

The controversial alignment for the two-lane road that will one day link Coquitlam's Burke Mountain with Lougheed Highway in PoCo will follow - for the most part - Devon Road, Prairie Avenue and Burns Road.

The choice was made in the best interests of PoCo residents, councillors stressed, and not for the 15,000 new residents who will occupy the eastern Burke neighbourhood of Partington Creek, the area where the city of Coquitlam will concentrate most of its growth over the next 15 years.

In selecting the Devon route - which went against city planning and engineering managers' wishes as well as Coquitlam's - PoCo councillors made clear they wanted as little impact to the residents in the Sun Valley neighbourhood, especially those living on St. Thomas Street, west of the BC Hydro power lines.

During an hour-long debate Monday, attended by about a dozen St. Thomas homeowners, PoCo councillors said they wanted to give finality to the issue that has created anxiety in the community for more than a decade.

In doing so, PoCo council also set a timeline of three months to have the Fremont alignment settled once and for all with Coquitlam.

"We're building a road that will accommodate a lot of Coquitlam's growth," Mayor Greg Moore told reporters after the vote. "I think we need to build a road that will respect our residents and I think Coquitlam needs to work with us to ensure that they also respect our residents and build their alignment to connect with where we think it's appropriate."

Moore's motion to run the Fremont Connector up Devon to Lincoln Avenue - rather than Cedar Drive or near the BC Hydro right of way, east of Fremont Street - specified the route would have to be at least 150 m away from St. Thomas residents' backyards; his motion was met with a round of applause from the crowd.

But councillors Mike Forrest and Dean Washington voted against the motion, saying they didn't want to define a distance as it would tie city staff's hands in planning the route.

Still, south of Prairie Avenue, councillors unanimously supported an alignment that would run the full length of Burns Road - with four lanes - curving slightly at the Prairie intersection at the north end.

Council turned down Moore and Coun. Glenn Pollock's earlier suggestion to cut through agricultural land, between Burns and Fremont (near Riverside Drive).

Running Fremont right up Burns would save money, Forrest argued, and would impact only one house at 620 Prairie Ave.

In a separate vote, council also unanimously agreed to keep Prairie Avenue as a two-lane arterial route - and not double it - to "not encourage more traffic," Moore said.

Jozsef Dioszeghy, Coquitlam's general manager of engineering and public works, told The Tri-City News Tuesday his staff have been talking to Port Coquitlam officials about Fremont "and the Devon Road alignment is entirely within Port Coquitlam. We don't have an issue with that."

The concern, he said, is the tie-in at Devon, Lincoln and Fremont at the Coquitlam border, and how traffic will flow without having too much impact on property and the environment.

"We identified our preference as the BC Hydro [right of way] alignment," Dioszeghy said. "The biggest challenge is purely technical We are more than prepared to work with Port Coquitlam. I do appreciate they have to represent their residents, just as Coquitlam has to represents ours."

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Burns Road (east route): $17.1 million to $23.5 million

Devon Road: $4.4 million to $7.4 million