ALERT! More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Ask TransLink: Peggy Gibbs, roads engineer!

asktranslink

From April 15 to May 10, you can Ask TransLink! We’re spotlighting one TransLink staff member every week and inviting you to ask them questions about their work. Find out all about the series.

Peggy Gibbs, a roads engineer at TransLink

Peggy Gibbs, a roads engineer at TransLink

Please extend a warm welcome to Peggy Gibbs, who works as an engineer with TransLink’s Roads department—helping manage our bridges, the major road network, and more! (Here’s a Buzzer blog post about our roads and bridges, btw!)

Peggy has kindly agreed to take your questions this week, ending at Friday, April 19, 2013 at noon. To get us started, I’ve asked her to tell us a bit about her work. Here we go!

What kind of work do you do for TransLink?

I am a Project Manager at TransLink, and have been with TransLink’s Roads Department for about two-and-a-half years.

The Roads Department here at TransLink has 11 engineers, and we look after the interests of all road user. We have a responsibility to help TransLink achieve its 2040 goal of having most trips by transit, walking, and cycling.

We operate (or help to operate) a range of infrastructure, from the region’s Major Road Network (MRN), to the BC Parkway pedestrian/cyclist path running from Vancouver to Surrey, to the five TransLink-owned bridges. We also look after the interests of truck traffic.

What projects are you currently working on, and what projects have you done in the past?

We have lots of projects on the go. Some of the ones we are working on now include the Evergreen Line integration, working with the Evergreen Line project team to make sure that buses, pedestrians, bikes, and autos can easily and safely access the new Evergreen Line stations. We are working on a multi-year project to upgrade the BC Parkway bike/pedestrian path, which hasn’t had an upgrade in the 27 years since it opened.

We work with all the municipalities in the Metro Vancouver area to fund maintenance, operation, and upgrades to the Major Road Network and cycling facilities. We are part of the TransLink team that works with municipalities and developers throughout the Metro Vancouver area to improve and integrate bus exchanges as town centres and neighborhoods are redesigned and redeveloped.

Can you describe the work of a road engineer? i.e.: what’s your day-to-day work like?

Road engineers at TransLink deal with everything from maintaining bridge structures to making sure traffic (including buses, bikes, and pedestrians) can operate safely and efficiently on a region-wide network spanning Metro Vancouver’s 22 municipalities.

To do that, we have a range of programs such as regular bridge inspections, MRN pavement inspections, and funding programs for roads and bicycle infrastructure. We also work with TransLink planners and municipal planners to make sure that new and existing TransLink services and facilities, such as bus routes and bus exchanges, can operate safely and efficiently.

On a day-to-day basis, that means things like (for example) working with staff at municipalities, the Ministry of Transportation, and developers when they are making changes to roadways, traffic signals, parking regulations, or sidewalks; making sure that roadway designers give buses enough space to pull in and out of bus stops and to turn; and working with Coast Mountain Bus Company to make bus exchanges easier for visually impaired persons to use.

And now it’s your turn to ask the questions!

Please feel free to submit your questions in the comments below, and we’ll get Peggy to answer them for you until Friday, April 19, 2013 at noon!


26 Comments

  • By tek, April 16, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

    Hi Peggy,
    How does TransLink deal with signage and navigation? I notice that on Provincially-owned roads the signage is usually great. But on the MRN the signs are either completely different than the Provincial roads, or in most cases non-existent. Does TransLink have a plan to coordinate wayfinding methods with the Province?
    We have a bit of a unique situation wherein our major downtown core does not have a proper highway, yet travelers are directed in to grid traffic to find their way to far off destinations like Whistler, Squamish, Horseshoe Bay ferries, etc… It really feels like our MRN needs a clear, standardized signage system that would help improve traffic flow and therefore reduce emissions. These signs may also aid cyclists and pedestrians, too.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 16, 2013 @ 5:13 pm

    Hello tek! Thanks so much for the question. Here is the response from Peggy:

    You’re right about provincial highways have good signage – the province has a detailed manual that provides a great foundation for their highway signing program. And you’re also right about the benefits of a standardized signing system for the MRN. TransLink has been in discussions with the municipalities who own the MRN roads to identify how we can improve the MRN system, including bringing some consistency to MRN signage. For now, most municipalities use two guidelines for their signing both on and off the MRN – the Canada-wide guide called Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada, and the provincial manual titled BC Manual of Standard Traffic Signs and Pavement Markings. Following these manuals provides some signing consistency across the Metro Vancouver municipalities. However, we would like to achieve a consistent MRN signing standard like you have suggested. We are continuing our discussions with our municipal partners regarding this and other ways to make the MRN more responsive to the needs of those who use it.

  • By Cliff, April 16, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

    A few questions.

    What did you have to take in school and how long did it take to get to where you are now?

    If funding or politics weren’t issues, which major road project would you most like to see get done?

  • By John B., April 17, 2013 @ 6:24 am

    I would like to know what are the main decisive factors for Park´n´Ride facilities. I´m very disappointed by their construction in quiet suburbs, where they attract more transport, which has negative impact for the environment. I understand that we have to deal with the increase of cars and with increasing distance people are travelling to work. But is Park´n´Ride really an answer? Shouldn´t you rather promote Cycle´n´Ride?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 17, 2013 @ 8:54 am

    Hey Cliff, thanks for your questions! Here is Peggy’s response:

    Hi Cliff. Most roads engineers are civil engineers. I took my Civil Engineering courses at UBC, and have been working as an engineer since the late ‘80’s. As for what major road project I’d like most to see going ahead – that’s a good question. The Roads Department’s job is to help move people and goods, so projects that are best able to do that are the ones that most interest me. Some of those projects are a new Pattullo Bridge, the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor, and the Evergreen Line. Maybe another good question would be what major project (not necessarily a road project) would be good to get done? One of the projects we’re working on right now is upgrading the BC Parkway, that 26-km pedestrian/bicycle pathway that runs alongside the Expo Line from Surrey to Vancouver. It provides convenient access to Skytrain stations and encourages people to walk and cycle more, which makes it a great way to move people.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 17, 2013 @ 8:56 am

    Hi John B – here’s Peggy’s response to your questions:

    Hi John. Your idea of Cycle-and-Ride is a great one. TransLink already offers bike parking facilities (bike lockers and racks) at its Park-and-Rides and bus exchanges. We recently completed a study with UBC to invest in “bike cages” (larger bike storage areas) at our Park-and-Rides, and we’re moving forward to implement the results of that study. TransLink’s policy is to provide Park-and-Ride lots where they help provide efficient access to transit. Park-and-Rides can especially help those who need options to get to buses and SkyTrains, such as people who don’t live within walking distance to a bus route, or who want to take transit but also need their car or bike to run errands before and after work (for childcare pick-up and drop-off, for example). By making it easier to take transit for most of their commute, Park-and-Ride lots can help people reduce the length of their private auto trips, which reduces environmental impacts. We also encourage combining carpooling and transit by offering premium parking at Park-and-Rides for carpool vehicles, further reducing environmental impacts.

  • By Voony, April 17, 2013 @ 9:27 am

    Does this sign belong to you?

    http://voony.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=17209

    Just asking, because it is in my way ;)

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 17, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    Hi Voony, here’s Peggy’s response to your question!

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Voony! I am checking to see whose sign this is. Once we find out, we will direct them to relocate it so it doesn’t block pedestrians and cyclists on the pathway.

  • By Cliff, April 17, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

    Fantastic answers. I have another question.

    Why doesn’t TransLink work with the province to give certain routes provincial route numbers? I know TransLink already manages roads with provincial route numbers that were put in place before they took over.

    Assigning a route number to Golden Ears Way would help with wayfinding. It’s an alternate route to highway 7, so why not 7c? You could even keep the existing shield like how the Yellowhead and Crowsnest have special ones. Or how about a route number from Roberts Bank up through Knight Street for the trucks that use this routing?

    If TransLink can’t be allowed to set provincial route numbers, why not create your own using a high 3 digit number series that the province likely won’t ever use?

  • By SS, April 17, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

    Another question about route numbers. For those routes that are downloaded from the province, are the route numbers still in use? I know route 7 is still a “provincial highway” although it is mostly maintained by TransLink west of Port Coquitlam. What about the rest, like 7A, 1A, 99A, etc? Seems like most maps have removed the designations, but they still appears in occasional signs and even have highway markers in a few places. I believe the province even put up some new ones directing people to “1A” and “7A”!

  • By Cliff, April 17, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

    Route 7′s terminus used (and still is, according to the city of Vancouver) to be Granville Street with Route 99. That’s why you still see large “Junction Ahead” signs coming down Granville. The province says that Route 7 ends at Kingsway in Vancouver even though it’s maintained by the city of Vancouver out to Boundary, where it’s TransLink and not the city of Burnaby that looks after it. Confusing. Not to mention 7A, which used to terminate with Route 99 as well, only in downtown Vancouver.

    There’s also the matter of 1A and 99A. Both are said by the province to no longer be provincial routes, yet all the cities along the route still erect new signage stating that the route is still in force. The funny part is that Route 1A is still recognized by the province from the Upper Levels to Downtown Vancouver.

    Route 10 has been trimmed down to Route 91 from its former terminus at what was then Route 17. This ‘trimming’ seems to be recognized by everyone however. Delta was in favour of this re-designation in order to promote the use of Route 99 away from what is basically a farm road.

    How do I think it should be done? Keep route numbers where they are regardless of who maintains the road. Provincial route designations are for the public’s benefit, not merely for internal use. The only time a road should lose its designation is due to construction or in the case of Delta with Route 10 and Ladner Trunk Road.

  • By Voony, April 17, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

    I noticed today the sign I mentioned is gone- it was for pavement work on Knight bridge (or rather below Bridgeport bridge)- but it has been blocking the pathway fro a good month (March and beginning April)

  • By Sheba, April 17, 2013 @ 11:42 pm

    I see the words ‘the BC Parkway’. How is any work on it going to happen when TransLink hasn’t been providing funding for cycling infrastructure. The BC Parkway stakeholder meetings were in 2008 and the report from them is from 2009 – is any of that information going to be used?

    I ask because riding on the BC Parkway is stressful as I have to play obstacle course with pedestrians who insist on walking on the bike path instead of the separated walking path. It’s almost better to ride on the road alongside cars and be an invisible moving target.

    If TransLink is planning on putting any bike routes on the road, painting an image of a bike on the road doesn’t work. Many car drivers don’t even see a cyclist, much less a picture of one on the ground. Are there any plans to create on-road separated bicycle lanes?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 18, 2013 @ 8:52 am

    Voony: indeed it has been removed! Peggy shared this info about it:

    The temporary sign appears to be from the City of Richmond’s contractor, and we contacted the City to direct their contractor to relocate it out of the paved path. The sign has now been removed by the City’s contractor.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 18, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    Hi Cliff! Here’s Peggy’s response to your question:

    Hi Cliff. This is an interesting suggestion. For the most part, TransLink manages the Major Road Network in partnership with the 19 municipalities who actually own and operate the roads, so we would need their agreement and cooperation to implement something like a parallel route numbering system. As I mentioned in one of my previous responses, we are currently working with our municipal partners to identify how we can improve the MRN system, and we can include your idea in the discussion.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 18, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    Hi SS! Here’s Peggy’s response to your question:

    Hi SS. This is a great question, and one I’ve often asked myself. I’m checking to see if I can get to the bottom of this. If I find the answer, I’ll let you know via this blog!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 18, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

    Cliff: here’s Peggy’s response to your last question.

    Cliff, I think you know more about the provincial highway numbering system than I do! One thing I can clear up is that Lougheed Highway in Burnaby, which is part of the MRN, is owned and operated by the City of Burnaby in partnership with TransLink. (The only parts of the MRN that TransLink outright owns and operates are TransLink bridges and a network of roads accessing the Golden Ears Bridge.)

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 18, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

    Hi Sheba – here’s the response from Peggy to your question.

    Hi Sheba. Let me take your concerns one at a time.

    Regarding the BC Parkway upgrades: TransLink is currently working on those upgrades, based on conceptual designs from the 2009 report you mentioned, now supplemented with detailed designs completed in the last year. The upgrades are expected to start later this year.

    Second, regarding TransLink funding for cycling infrastructure: The BC Parkway upgrades are being funded through our dedicated bicycle funding programs (the TransLink-Owned Bicycle Infrastructure program, and the Bicycle Infrastructure Capital Cost Sharing Regional Needs programs), which allocate $2 million every year to bicycle infrastructure. Separate from these programs, each year TransLink funds bike and roads projects on a cost-sharing basis with municipalities. The proportion of these funds that go for bicycle infrastructure varies each year depending on where municipalities direct the funds. This year, about $5M is going for bike projects.

    Third, regarding cycling on the BC Parkway: while there are dual paved and gravel pathways along much of the BC Parkway, neither pathway is assigned to a specific user. Please keep in mind that many pedestrians need to walk on the paved pathway, especially pedestrians with mobility limitations, pedestrians pushing strollers, and skaters. We encourage all users – cyclists and pedestrians alike — to be respectful of each other when using the BC Parkway.

    Lastly, regarding on-road separated bicycle lanes: On-street cycling facilities are planned, designed and implemented by the agency that owns the road, usually the municipality or province. Our role is to support, through the funding programs I mentioned above, municipalities’ efforts to upgrade their bicycle infrastructure. Where those municipal efforts include on-road separated bike lanes, TransLink might be a supporting partner. For example, TransLink is a funding partner for Vancouver’s Comox-Helmcken Bikeway, which includes a two-way separated bike lane (http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/comox-helmcken.aspx).

  • By Cliff, April 18, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

    Haha, I don’t think I know as much about the provincial highway system as I thought I did!

    A great job on the Q & A. I thought it to be productive and very enlightening. Keep up the quality work, everyone!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 19, 2013 @ 9:04 am

    Aw, thanks Cliff! I’ll let Peggy know :)

  • By Bill Kinkaid, April 21, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

    About using Provincial Highway numbers – we see in several places that directional signs use the route numbers but not the names. Notably, taking the exit from Highway 1 east to Highway 7 (and yes, I understand the whole interchange is still a work in progress) there are abundant signs for Highway 7, 7a or whatever they are. Hands up, those who can tell without looking at a map which one of those goes to Coquitlam Centre and which goes to the Mary Hill Bypass. Most of us know we want to go to one or the other and don’t care what route number it is. Signs to actually indicate which ramp goes where would be nice.

  • By Cliff, April 23, 2013 @ 3:04 am

    That’s the fault of the province, I’m afraid. TransLink doesn’t operate Route 7 from about Coleman Avenue to about Colony Farm Road.

    The signs are really misleading and are pretty simple to fix, actually.

    West:

    1 Burnaby, Vancouver, North Vancouver
    7 Coquitlam South

    East:

    1 Surrey, Langley, Abbottsford
    7 Coquitlam North, Port Coquitlam
    7B Port Coquitlam South, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge

    Leave out cities that are not along the route and routes that are completely in other cities. Having 7A on a sign at the Cape Horn interchange is completely inappropriate. A sign saying “Port Moody via 7″ would be acceptable. Then, another sign at Barnet Highway saying “Port Moody via Barnet Highway, Next Left” along with a little highway shield for 7A if they really want.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 29, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    Hey Bill – just want to echo Cliff’s comments. The BC Ministry of Transportation is in charge of those roads and will have the full info on numbering: perhaps try to reach out to them!

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Ask TransLink: join Peggy Gibbs on Facebook for a real-time chat at 2pm, Thu April 18, 2013 — April 18, 2013 @ 11:23 am

  2. The Buzzer blog » Ask TransLink: our roads engineer Q&A helps move a sign, and talks BC Parkway upgrades — April 19, 2013 @ 10:18 am

  3. The Buzzer blog » Ask TransLink: welcome to our April special post series! — April 29, 2013 @ 11:27 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Please read our Participation Guidelines before you comment.