September 17, 2016 3:22 pm

Over 150 Walnut Grove residents in Langley protest interchange project

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A group of protesters was out in the Walnut Grove neighbourhood of Langley Saturday morning to voice their opposition to a new highway interchange project that they say doesn’t belong in their quiet, residential community.

They say the new interchange will go past two elementary schools in violation of the existing community plan.

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The $59-million project includes a four-lane interchange off Highway 1 at 216th Street, as well as lane widening between 202nd and 216th Street.

The government says the project will help to better accommodate the current daily traffic volume of more than 106,000 vehicles on Highway 1 by helping to reduce congestion and increasing capacity and mobility.

But the residents say the Walnut Grove Community has been well-planned and developed, and there is no need to bring in excessive traffic.

They voiced their concerns at the open house held by the Ministry of Transportation and a petition with more than 1,000 signatures was also handed in, but their complaints seem to be falling on deaf ears.

“The original plan was for the highway exit to go down to 217th Street,” resident Graeme Harfman told Global News. “The official community plan does not show this road as being an access onto the Highway. So we are asking the local government to engage with us.”

“This community was developed over 25 years ago with a plan that makes this community one of the best communities on the Lower Mainland and we want to stick to that plan,” he said.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure released the following statement to Global News:

This interchange project is all about increasing safety, capacity and efficiency on Highway 1, and we will continue to work closely with all interested parties now and into the future. We understand that some residents in the community are concerned about the impact the new interchange will have on local roads. The ministry and the Township of Langley have met with the citizens regarding their concerns. Ministry staff are taking steps to reduce construction noise and are monitoring traffic through the area. We appreciate them coming to us and to the Township, and we will continue to consult with them as this important infrastructure project gets underway.

Building a new interchange on Highway 1 at 216th Street in Langley is critical for moving people, emergency vehicles and goods in this area. Once constructed, the new interchange will help alleviate congestion and get traffic moving through this key corridor.

Harfman says they are hopeful the government will listen and they are prepared to escalate the issue all the way to the federal government.

“It’s not about us stopping development,” he said. “It’s about moving it to a location that’s more appropriate for the community.”

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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