Dec 15,2010 New West Leader

New Westminster city council has rejected all four design options put forward by TransLink for the United Boulevard Extension (UBE) project.

"We've made a decision to make no decision," said Coun. Lorrie Williams. "We've made a decision to wait and see."

Council's decision now puts pressure on TransLink, responsible for designing and building the extension.

The transportation authority is now faced with two challenges. First it must get a deadline extension on the project from the federal government, which is providing $65 towards the UBE. Second, it has to come up with a fifth option that is acceptable to New West and one it can afford.

New Westminster council initially supported Option A, which was a T-intersection that would link Brunette Avenue in New West to Coquitlam's United Boulevard. But residents' input at recent public meetings helped convince them that none of the options would be positive for the city.

Williams said concerns remained about how much new traffic would come into the city, and the fact that even though the UBE might improve flow at one point, the choke point would likely move further down the line.

The project is part of the North Fraser Perimeter Road, a planned four-lane truck route linking the Queensborough Bridge with the Golden Ears Bridge in Maple Ridge.

Other upgrades on the route are not planned for several years.

Ottawa has told TransLink that if the UBE plan has support it will commit about $65 million, but a deadline looms.

New West council's resolution, passed Monday night, asks TransLink to seek an extension from the federal government.

"Everybody knows TransLink has their back against the wall too," Williams said.

Council's resolution also asks the transportation authority to continue consultation on the UBE and the NFPR, and to return with alternative design options for the UBE.

Ken Hardie with TransLink says the transportation authority hasn't made a decision how to proceed after receiving a copy of council's motion.

"It's going to take a few days to analyze this before we can respond," said Hardie.

However, TranksLink has already made some inquires with the federal Ministry of Transportation, requesting a deadline extension. TransLink was given until Dec. 31 to enter into a funding agreement with the transportation ministry.

"It's important for us to have flexibility now with this project," said Hardie.

"Since none of the project options were accepted, including the (T-intersection) option the City of New Westminster supported for five years, it's back to the drawing board for us."

TransLink engineers must come up with another UBE design acceptable to New Westminster council and the community. as well as fitting within a budget.

The federal government is offering $65 million and TransLink has $60 million. Of the four options that were rejected, the least expensive was $151 million.

"From TransLink's point of view, we need to find ways to keep this affordable," said Hardie.

ówith files from Chris Bryan