The Light Rail Committee have long advocated for “The return of the Interurban” for the Fraser Valley, as a cost effective way of extending ‘rail’ transit to Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack. The LRC advocates that instead of following the original rights-of-ways completely, alterations to the original route must be considered to give the ‘interurban’ 21st century usefulness. Using Number 10 highway and the Langley By-pass for LRT, would bring the tram directly to major transit generators, such as Kwantlen College in Cloverdale; Fraser Downs horse racing facility and Casino; Willow Brook Mall; and businesses along the Langley Bypass.
Using a ‘reserved rights-of-way’ in the median of Highway 10. would not interfere with road traffic, enabling the interurban to penetrate to where the customer wants to go, without the need of long walks or bus transfer.
The proposed 9.5 km. route would diverge from the Souther Railway of BC to Highway 10 at the Serpentine Bridge (164 St.), where there is already a protected rail crossing and proceed in the median (single track), with preemptive signaling at all major intersections. At 175 St. the route becomes two tracks, through Cloverdale to 180 St., where the line again becomes a single track, until it reached the Langley By-pass, where again the route is dual tracked, operating on a ‘reserved rights-of-way’ until it rejoins the Coal Port Railway at Glover Rd.
The benefits are many and most importantly giving the interurban 9.5 kilometers of it own route in Langley and Cloverdale, without interference from the mainline railways (this is important, especially if a local service were to be operated), secondly, many businesses and schools would be in easy walking distance tram the interurban, an important consideration if one wants businesses and transit customer support. There is one final benefit of the #10/Langley Bypass route; the proposed 200th St. LRT/streetcar service would feed directly into the interurban, providing a seamless journey to Vancouver, a proven way to attract ridership.
Detractors of the proposed route, mostly the auto lobby, will whine about loss of road space, yet very little road space will be lost, especially if the interurban operates in mixed traffic in Cloverdale. There are hundreds of light-rail operations around the world which operate in such a manner and with proper design the interurban would fit in with minimal disruption. The proposed route would of course cost more to build, about $50 million more than using the existing railway rights-of-ways but the benefits would out weigh the added cost or minor traffic disruptions.
The success of the interurban is dependent on how it satisfies the (transit) customer’s needs and a #10 highway/Langley Bypass route, servicing major shopping precincts, commercial businesses, and schools will go a long way to satisfying customer’s travel needs.