The District of Houston is preparing to support its projected growth to the year 2033.
According to the district’s recently adopted Transportation Master Plan, Hwy. 16 has seen regular growth in traffic volumes. With the exception of the years 2008 and 2009 - which were affected by the global economic recession - the highway has seen an average increase in traffic of two per cent per year.
Meanwhile the Houston population is expected to grow by about 1.5 per cent by the year 2033, according to the plan.
These projected increases would generate almost 3300 vehicles during the critical weekday afternoon peak hour in Houston, with at least 50 per cent of the new traffic using Hwy. 16 to cross Buck Creek.
To accommodate this projected growth, the Transportation Master Plan recommends the expansion of the municipal road network. This includes intersection improvements at seven locations along Hwy. 16, the construction of a connector between Eleventh Street and Benson Avenue, and a new bridge over Buck Creek at Fourteenth Street.
In addition, the plan recommends that Benson Avenue be extended to Eleventh Street as a municipal roadway to improve north-south connections, and that both Goold Road and Lund Road be extended to complete the east-west linkages and to provide network redundancy.
With the provision of only a single vehicle crossing of Buck Creek, the plan states that there is no built-in road network redundancy should there be an incident that blocks Hwy. 16 at Buck Creek. In addition, CN’s three at-grade railway crossings immediately adjacent to Hwy. 16 contribute to vehicle congestion during peak times when there is train activity.
The plan recommends expanding the local pedestrian and bike networks, and initiating a feasibility study with BC Transit to assess the viability of implementing public transit in Houston. In addition, the plan recommends expanding the VIA train station so that it becomes a multi-modal transportation centre, where passenger rail, intercity bus, future public transit and taxi are all interconnected.
While the recommendations were accepted by council, there is no timeline to implement these upgrades as of yet, according to Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s Chief Administrative Officer.
“These recommendations would need to be considered during the financial planning process prior to proceeding,” he told Houston Today.
Financing for these projects would result from grants and other sources of funding available to local governments, he added.
The District of Houston retained Creative Transportation Solutions Ltd. in 2014 to assist municipal staff in the development of this plan, which conducted a technical assessment of the existing transportation network, examined the future transportation needs of the community and developed a recommended plan for the municipal road network.
According to the district, public consultation was a critical component of developing the updated plan. The first public meeting was held on June 25, 2014 with approximately 50 people in attendance.