Light rail to the Fraser Valley? Abbotsford mayor says it’s not ‘pie in the sky’

Braun says he'd like to see a light rail system similar to the one used in Edmonton put into place.
Braun says he'd like to see a light rail system similar to the one used in Edmonton put into place. File, Global News

Abbotsford’s mayor is floating the idea of building light rail transit (LRT) down the middle of Highway 1 between Surrey and the Fraser Valley to alleviate congestion.

“No I don’t think it’s pie in the sky, I said that 20 years ago,” Henry Braun told Global News.

READ MORE: Broadway subway, Surrey LRT will be pricier than planned. But how much?

Braun says traffic is so bad on the stretch of highway between the two areas that it is actually faster to travel using the back roads.

“It’s taken me as long as two hours to get from [Abbotsford] city hall to downtown Vancouver.”

With the region talking transit mega projects, Braun is now arguing his city should be included. He’s proposing the LRT line be constructed using the space between east and westbound lanes.

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“The median should be an LRT surface-based transit system like Calgary and Edmonton,” Braun said.

READ MORE: City of Surrey awards contract for early LRT construction

Braun is not the first person to float the idea of a light rail service to the Fraser Valley. Transit advocates have previously floated the idea of reviving the old BC Electric Railway Interurban line, which ran from New Westminster to Chilliwack until the 1950s.

Braun didn’t propose how the line would be funded, or say whether he thought it should be administered by TransLink or BC Transit.

But he said while it’s clear that the federal government’s transit priority is on the major urban centres, it’s time to get the same discussion going on at the local level.

READ MORE: ‘Incredibly foolish’: Surrey mayor slams potential slowdown on light rail, subway

At the very least, Braun said congestion is bad enough to the valley that the highway should be widened.

“The freeway was built when I was 14 years old,” Braun said.

“I’m now 67 and the freeway is still the same.”


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