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TransLink 101: Managing major roads and bridges in Metro Vancouver

TransLink 101: Managing major roads and bridges in Metro Vancouver

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For February 2013, we’re going back to basics with TransLink 101—a series of posts explaining TransLink and its work!

A view down Knight Street (part of the Major Road Network), by brian.ch on Flickr

When most people think of TransLink, they immediately think of our transit services. But while transit is at the heart of our mandate, TransLink is also responsible for roads and bridges throughout the region, particularly corridors that connect communities and are critical for the movement of both people and goods.

So if you drive in Metro Vancouver, then you probably use roads that TransLink pays municipalities to operate and maintain! Running these roads, bridges, and transit helps TransLink fulfill its job to plan for regional transportation needs as a whole.

The Major Road Network (MRN)

A map of the major road network! MRN is in blue and provincial roads are red.
A map of the major road network! MRN is in blue and provincial roads are red.

TransLink has responsibility for what is called the Major Road Network (MRN), over 2,300 lane kilometres of major arterial roads that connect the cities of our service region. Lane kilometre is a measure of vehicle travel lanes – a one-kilometre long road that has four travel lanes has four lane kilometres of MRN.

Roads that are part of the MRN provide access across municipal boundaries to regional activity centres (e.g. universities, schools, business centres) and carry a high volume of traffic and vehicles that are going longer distances. Roads on the MRN may also carry a high volume of buses and trucks.

If you travel around Metro Vancouver, many of the roads that are part of the MRN will be familiar. For example:

  • Knight Street
  • Kingsway
  • Broadway
  • Lougheed Highway
  • Royal Avenue
  • Fraser Highway
  • King George Boulevard
  • No 2 Road
  • Steveston Highway
  • Old Dewdney Trunk Road
  • Marine Drive and Marine Way
  • Marine Drive (North Shore)

These are just some of the roads in the network, but most of the others are equally recognizable. Take a close look at the map to see if any of the roads you take – by bus or car – are part of the MRN. Chances are good that they are.

What does TransLink do for major roads?

Every year TransLink provides funding to municipalities to operate, maintain and rehabilitate these roads. The specific amount each municipality receives is linked to the number of lane kilometres of MRN it has. The total amount varies from year to year, but in 2013 TransLink is putting $44 million toward this work.

The funding allocated toward the municipalities is earmarked for operations, maintenance and rehabilitation. The list of what this includes is varied, but includes fixing potholes and cracks on the road; improving pavement; maintaining streetlights, signals and signs; maintaining sidewalks; and removing snow. TransLink provides the funding, but each municipality identifies and completes the work needed.

What about upgrades to major roads?

The end result of an MRN upgrade project -- 96 Ave in Surrey was widened to four lanes from two, and got left-turn bays at intersections.
The end result of an MRN upgrade project — 96 Ave in Surrey was widened to four lanes from two, and got left-turn bays at intersections.

TransLink also funds upgrade projects for the major roads, and shares the cost of these with municipalities and other regional partners. Some of the projects are large such as Fraser Highway widening (Surrey and Langley), the Low Level Road Project (North Vancouver), the Coast Meridian Overpass (Port Coquitlam) and the 204 Street Overpass (Langley).

TransLink also helps fund a lot of smaller projects that have a significant day-to-day impact on our roads. These include things like turning bays, geometric improvements, signals for traffic control, or sidewalk widening.

I live in East Vancouver near Knight Street, which is part of the major road network (lots of cars, trucks and buses!). A few years ago, left-turn bays were put in at the intersection of East 33rd and Knight Streets. Traffic flows better through the intersection now, which benefits me both as a driver and as a transit user. I didn’t know it at the time, but the project was funded in part by TransLink. It’s a good example of the type of road projects TransLink helps fund.

What does TransLink do for bridges?

The Canada Line pedestrian and bike bridge
The Canada Line pedestrian and bike bridge

In addition to the major road network, TransLink also owns and has specific responsibility for operating several bridges. We aim to keep all these bridges safe and in good repair.

  • Golden Ears Bridge (including Golden Ears Way from 176th Street in Surrey to 210th in Maple Ridge)
  • Pattullo Bridge
  • Knight Street Bridge
  • Westham Island Bridge
  • Canada Line pedestrian and bike bridge

TransLink: not just transit after all

Having responsibility for major roads and bridges helps TransLink fulfill its mandate to plan for regional transportation needs. Our roads and bridges connect cities across the region so it’s important for TransLink to provide a consistent and equitable level of funding that helps ensure significant corridors can effectively move both goods and people. The roads and bridges part of TransLink’s mandate also supports our role as a transit service provider, because the bus service we provide can only be as good as the roads the service runs on.

This is part of our special TransLink 101 series. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments!

Author: Tina Robinson