A $2.3 million pedestrian walkway to the Junction is being constructed on the east side of Highway 11, just south of the Lougheed Highway.
The much-demanded path has been a priority project for previous councils, but only until now, has the Ministry of Transportation agreed to spend the money.
A two-metre wide aluminum structure will be built to hang off the overpass and over the railway tracks.
The project is a compromise, said Mission Mayor Ted Adlem, who explained the district originally wanted to eliminate truck traffic from First Avenue.
The compromise, was a reduced speed on First Avenue (from 50 km/h to 40 km/h) and a walkway, explained Adlem.
But as part of the downtown revitalization plan, the municipality is still working on convincing the Ministry of Transportation to re-route truck traffic from First to North Railway Avenue.
“It should’ve been done many years ago, and I’m glad it’s being done now,” he noted.
When you see people walking along the highway along the narrow strip, it’s obviously very dangerous, said Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes, adding it was only a matter of time before someone would be hit and killed.
The idea for a pedestrian overpass is too expensive and there are a lot of safety concerns too, said Hawes.
“We need a sidewalk someone can push a cart or baby carriage on,” said Hawes.
The walkway was already high on the ministry’s list, and with a little push, it was moved to the top, said Hawes,
There will also be structural and lighting upgrades to the overpass, noted Marc Dalton, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission.
Gregory Ould, founder of Blanket BC, has been advocating for a safe walkway for pedestrians and cyclists for years. He lobbied previous municipal councils and the provincial government for years and didn’t give up when they told him there was no funding. Now, he’s “ecstatic” about the work.
Ould likes to bike or walk to as many places around the community as he can with his family and has had some close calls walking to the Junction from Lougheed Highway.
As a driver, he also nearly hit three youth walking on the same path. “Some guy on the phone veered towards me and I moved over and nearly hit them,” Ould recalled. “You feel very uncomfortable walking there.”
Instead of complaining about it, Ould started to lobby governments.
An official announcement for the project is scheduled to be held March 28) at the Junction Shopping Centre.
For details from the event, visit missioncityrecord.com.