The Evergreen Line will go through – not under – the busy intersection of Como Lake Avenue and Clarke Road on the Coquitlam-Burnaby boarder.
More than 100 Burquitlam residents got the news they didn’t want to hear at a public meeting Wednesday. They listened for nearly two hours as TransLink experts answered their written questions, the majority of which focused on the location of the tunnel portal in their neighbourhood.
“We received a lot of input and had to balance several positions,” said Sherry Plewes, TransLink’s vice-president of capital management and engineering.
The message from residents, she said, was clear: They wanted the electric train to go under the intersection.
But a longer tunnel would add $14 million to the cost and complicate access to a redeveloped Burquitlam Plaza, she said.
Plans now call for the portals for the tunnel to be located on the north side of Como Lake Avenue and near Barnet Highway (at the bottom of Snake Hill).
The Burquitlam portion of the Evergreen Line that will be above ground is short and has one station but the Burquitlam Neighbourhood Association is following the planning intently and called for a town hall-style meeting in addition to the open house scheduled for June 15 at Seaview community school from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Also from the Burquitlam meeting:
After a second round of open houses this month, the planning team will present recommendations for route and funding to the TransLink board, expecting a final decision in October, Plewes said.
The train is on track for construction and testing in 2007-’09, with operation in December 2009. Plewes called the schedule “aggressive” but said, “It can be done.”
The train will “follow the rules of the road,” including speed limits, but will be faster than cars because the driver can control traffic signals. There are 23 intersections on the route and 18 have some form of transit priority, from extending the green light (a “soft pre-empt”) to changing the light to green (“full priority”). The trains are two-headed. At the end of the route, the driver walks to the other end of the train.
The intersection of Como Lake Avenue and Clarke Road will be substantially upgraded. Work has been planned for years, but was postponed to coincide with transit. There will be right-turn lanes for people heading west and left-turn lanes for those going north. “The impact of the train will be minimal once the intersection is improved,” Plewes said. Project manager David Ko said: “Hopefully traffic patterns will change – the volumes will decrease.”
They will be fancier than bus stops because more people will congregate, and it’s hoped they will become popular meeting places. There will be ticket machines and “next-train” notices but no washrooms. (If people want them, they should talk to the city because it’s not a TransLink matter, Plewes said.)
• There won’t be any more park-and-ride lots because the point is for people to take the bus to the train. There won’t be any compensation for residents inconvenienced by noise or dust. The Dairy Queen on North Road, which is on land leased from plaza owner Morguard Corporation, “will be impacted,” said Ko. In fact, the whole site will be affected as Safeway and Morguard have waited for the transit catalyst so the site can be redeveloped for more intense use.
• The cost of the tunnel is 10% of the cost of the project, estimated at $800 million.