Chilliwack councillors call for urgency on Highway 1 improvement work

City councillors in Chilliwack say they’re “somewhere between hopeful and pessimistic” after a Tuesday evening presentation from the province on plans to widen Highway 1.

Provincial officials from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) gave an update on the project, saying they couldn’t give a firm timeline on the Chilliwack part of the road until the end of the year. Councillors are saying the city can’t afford to keep waiting for the situation to improve.

Coun. Bud Mercer says he wants the province to first look at some major pain points, like the 264th Interchange.

“For people who are forced to run this s-show daily or every second day, why aren’t you looking at some of the low-hanging fruit like this interchange?” he said.

Mercer says the province gave a great presentation but noted there must be a good reason it isn’t giving deadlines and dates for some of the planned improvements.

“It’s becoming too late — it’s part of our commerce, it’s part of the traffic coming through Chilliwack, it’s becoming every day now we’re backed up towards Abbotsford and Langley,” he said.

“It should’ve been done by the last government, but it wasn’t … a presentation that puts more focus on when we can expect shovels in the ground would be helpful.”

Coun. Chris Kloot says this work should have been done 25 years ago, adding the highway is crucial to business in the region.

“Whether we like it or not, we’re growing at two per cent a year,” he said. “People will need their cars, they will need to get places in the Metro Vancouver area. No one likes sitting in traffic and we’re doing that for 15 hours a day, at least.”

For now, the province says it is working on widening the section of Highway 1 from 216th Street to 264th Street, noting the project is an urgent priority.

Work on the next phase that’ll tackle 264th Street to Mt. Lehman Road is set to begin next year, the province adds, saying it will have more information on the project and its timelines by the end of 2023.

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