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Nov 17,2010 Tri City News

 

Design options for the United Boulevard extension linking Coquitlam with New Westminster will go before the public next week in Coquitlam.

TransLink will host an open house Thursday, Nov. 25 at Place des Arts (1120 Brunette Ave.) from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. to talk about phase one of the North Fraser Perimeter Road, which includes the extension project.

On Monday, Coquitlam city council endorsed TransLink's plan to apply for federal stimulus funding by the end of the year to replace the single-lane bailey bridge over the Brunette River with a four-lane bridge. As well, the plan calls for a controversial grade-separated link to Brunette Avenue, likely over the SkyTrain guideway.

If the federal funding is approved, the bridge would be complete by 2014 with the environmental assessment to start next year while the four-laning of Brunette Avenue at East Columbia Road in New West would be ready by 2018.

The pinch-point on the west side of United Boulevard has been the source of contention for years and has caused major traffic snarl-ups.

Eight years ago, Coquitlam opened the four-lane extension of the United Boulevard west of King Edward Street to the New West border. In response, New Westminster's mayor locked the bridge gate when Coquitlam failed to implement traffic measures as promised.

Coquitlam took the Royal City to court but lost when the judge agreed Coquitlam hadn't addressed the traffic congestion and safety concerns before the extension was built. That decision was overturned in the court of appeal, however, and New West grudgingly re-opened the gate and removed the concrete barriers blocking access to the Braid Street industrial area.

The first phase of the North Fraser Perimeter Road, which runs from the Golden Ears Bridge in Pitt Meadows to the Queensborough Bridge in New West, is in TransLink's 2005 Transportation Plan, which aims to better the flow of goods and services.

The United Boulevard extension is estimated to cost around $150 million (in 2007, the federal government committed $65 million toward the project as part of its Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative). TransLink is adding $60 million, meaning the project has at least a $25-million funding shortfall.

TransLink will hold a public consultation on the North Fraser Perimeter Road tomorrow (Thursday) between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. at the Justice Institute, 715 McBride Blvd., New Westminster.

jwarren@tricitynews.com

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