UBE and being good neighbours

On another forum, I commented that I thought it was important that we do not let TransLink (through two separate consultations) make the proposed United Boulevard Extension into a New Westminster vs. Coquitlam debate. We’ve been down that road before, to no-one’s satisfaction.

However, some New Wesminsterites have wondered: why does Coquitlam even want this? What’s in it for them? Why are they so hot to see $150-175 Million of local transportation funding go to a little overpass project in New Westminster, when that money would serve them better through the Evergreen Line, or other improvements in Coquitlam?

A recent Coquitlam staff report to council suggests the following benefits from the UBE:

“improved safety, connectivity and mobility for all modes (i.e. pedestrians, cyclists, transit and goods movement vehicles)”

If we accept “goods movement vehicles to be a euphemism for trucks, then where are the cars? And as I already commented on earlier posts, none of the 4 options really improve safety or mobility.

“mitigation of reoccurring delay and congestion caused by rail crossing activity on Braid Street and one-lane alternating traffic operations at the existing Bailey Bridge on United Blvd Braid Street”

One could argue (and New Westminster did back in the gate-closing controversy) that the recurring delay and congestion are caused by Coquitlam’s unilateral decision to direct traffic along United Boulevard instead of on the large regional roads that parallel it by a few hundred yard.

“improved access thereby improving the economic development potential of the Southwest Coquitlam employment lands along United Boulevard.”

Ahhh… so the destruction of residential, commercial, and industrial property in New Westminster should be done to support the “development potential” of Coquitlam land.

Note the references elsewhere in the report to improving the traffic system in Maillardville are vague, and mostly refer to required improvements of the Brunette Interchange with the expanded Highway 1. Coquitlam staff and TransLink both know: congestion in Maillardville is not caused by the Braid/Brunette intersection, and will not be addressed by the UBE. It is caused by the intersections of Brunette with Highway 1 and Lougheed.

The lone voice we have heard so far from Coquitlam residents is from the Maillardville Residents Association, who seem to think this is going to improve congestion in their neighbourhood, although they seem to acknowledge in the same article that the problem is Lougheed and Highway 1.

Perhaps the elephant in the room is Fraser Mills. This 83-acre mixed-use development at the south foot of King Edward in Coquitlam will see a series of 30-story residential towers totalling 3,700 units (more than 6 times the size of the massive development at Plaza 88 in New Westminster) along with commercial and light industrial spaces. All connected to the rest of the world by one road: United Boulevard. No Skytrain, no light rail, no alternatives. (if you zoom into Page 2 of this document, you can see the eventual alignment of Highway One and intersections though Coquitlam)

Once you leave Fraser Mills, your eastbound options will be to drive down past the furniture stores and the Casino to join Lougheed or the Highway 1 at the new! Improved! Cape Horn , or to cross the new King Edward overpass (though notably not to access Highway 1), and join Lougheed there. Your westbound options will be to cross the King Edward overpass to Lougheed, then find your way to Highway 1 or further along Lougheed via Maillardville. Leading to increased congestion in Maillardville. Unless, of course, you can avoid Maillardville completely by hopping on the United Boulevard Connector, and take your congestion to New Wesmtinster instead, who hardly saw it coming. This is why I previously referred to the UBE as New Westminster paying more property taxes to support poor planning choices in Coquitlam.

Despite how I started this post, it sounds now like I see this as a Coquitlam vs. New Westminster debate. But it isn’t. Bad planning choices by Coquitlam Council hurt the people of Coquitlam as much as they hurt the people of New West. The residents of Maillardville would be better served if they had better access to transit, and if the Fraser Mills development included a real Alternative Transportation Plan. Just as they would be better served by completion of the Evergreen line, and extension of the Evergreen into downtown Port Coquitlam, and back along the Lougheed Corridor to Braid, completing a loop the comprises both lines shown on this document.

We are talking regional transportation here, and we need regional solutions. We are all in this together. Coquitlam and New Westminster should work together to solve this problem, not conspire to patch a small area of a very large wound.

One comment on “UBE and being good neighbours

  1. Aha! The UBE makes a lot more sense now. I was having trouble seeing what was in it for Coquitlam, but I didn’t know about the Fraser Mills development. Assuming a lot of people in that development would be going to Vancouver to work, I think you are right, they will end up going through Maillardville anyway to get on the #1. I do feel bad about Maillardville — I think it will be even harder for Coquitlam to make that a truly viable commercial district than it will be for New West to transform Columbia St.

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