Sandor Gyarmati, Surrey Now
Published: Friday, November 02, 2007
The South Fraser Perimeter Road is inching closer to reality.
The much talked about 40-kilometre, four-lane highway, which will connect Deltaport to Highway 1 in Surrey, is currently under review by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office.
Part of the Gateway Program, the highway is to accommodate an increase in truck traffic that will come as a result of a third berth expansion underway at Deltaport as well as the possible construction of a second three-berth container terminal, Terminal 2.
Carrying an estimated $1 billion price tag, the new highway would cut through South Delta farmland and travel along the northern edge of Burns Bog.
Construction is expected to get into full swing in 2008 and the highway is scheduled for completion in 2012.
The project requires an environmental assessment certificate before it can move to the next phase.
Now that the public comment period has wrapped up, EAO staff are preparing the final assessment, which addresses issues raised by the working group, for the ministers of environment and community services.
Judy Shimkus, project assessment director with the EAO, said the ministers would receive the report in the next few weeks.
She said the ministers will have 45 days to make a decision after receiving the assessment, which doesn't make a recommendation whether the project should proceed or be rejected.
"We do an assessment of the impacts, then we write a report and make some conclusions regarding the assessment of those impacts," explained Shimkus.
"We do an assessment, for example, of whether or not there's the potential for a significant adverse effect that can't be mitigated, and then we present that information to ministers who make the decision."
Since the Ministry of Transportation is the proponent, minister Kevin Falcon won't be involved in making the decision whether to grant a certificate, reject the proposal or send it back for more work.
Once the required environmental assessment certificate is granted, there will be more public consultation, this time on the design phase, said Gateway executive director Mike Proudfoot.
Consultation on the preliminary design will include open houses, and that will be followed by another round of consultation on the final detailed design, explained Proudfoot, adding those consultations are expected to last several weeks.
"It's going to be like what we did before. We had our reference concept, we consulted the community and we made some refinements. We made some changes and had some very constructive changes to meet the community needs," he said.
"Some more refinements are anticipated because, of course, a lot of the good ideas come from the community, and then they would be incorporated in our preliminary designs and they would be presented in future as part of our detailed design consultation, where we get into details like landscaping and lighting features."
Although no dates or timelines have been set because the project is still waiting for the environmental certificate, once the design consultation begins some preloading work will commence, said Proudfoot.
At Delta council last month, the SFPR's alignment was discussed again. Noting public pressure is the only way to convince the government to change its mind about the route, Councillor Vicki Huntington said Delta needs to do more to publicize the impacts of the road and the Gateway program.
© Surrey Now 2007