It’s official. It’s open. The new 216th Street interchange to the Trans-Canada Highway is open to vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: New freeway interchange opens in Lower Mainland

Traffic is already flowing on a new $62-million highway connector in Langley

It will likely take some time for Langley residents to adjust their driving habits, but relief for traffic congestion at the 200th Street interchange could soon be realized.

The new 216th Street overpass and interchange connecting with the Trans-Canada Highway has officially opened in the past few days.

When the $59 million project was initially announced in summer 2015, Langley East MLA Rich Coleman spoke to the need.

“The 200th Street interchange is at capacity, and this new interchange and six-laning is needed to accommodate increasing traffic demands and regional growth in this area,” Coleman said at the time.

“Traffic volumes continue to go up in our growing region, which is why we need to get on with a fix. Once constructed, this new interchange will help alleviate congestion and get traffic moving again on this key corridor,” he said.

Well, the project is now expected to ultimately cost closer to $62 million, but five years after being announced there are vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians making their way across the overpass and onto and off of the freeway.

RELATED: New Langley overpass set to open within weeks

The federal government initially offered to fund the project to a maximum of $22.3 million. The Township of Langley was set to contribute $14.3 million, and the province was responsible for the remaining $22.3 million. And in the early days, construction was expected to start in late fall 2016 and be complete by fall 2019.

But start of construction was delayed in large part due to changes in the provincial government from Liberal to a NDP-Green coalition, and subsequent re-examination of transportation priorities. Work did not actually commence until spring 2017 on the new, six-lane interchange project lead by Jakes Construction Ltd.

The 216th Street interchange is the seventh overpass and fourth interchange over Highway 1 in Langley, and the only one added in decades. The plans also included widening four kilometres of Highway 1 between 202nd and 216th Streets from four lanes to six lanes.

PAST COVERAGE: 216th interchange will open by end of summer

The interchange proved controversial with some residents in Walnut Grove, who protested against the project, and then lobbied to block trucks from using it.

RELATED LETTER: Likely too late to address ripple effects of new Highway #1 interchange

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