It’s the main road in and out of town, so Maple Ridge wants to make the most of it.
Fortunately, the building blocks are already falling into place, thanks to several plans and projects underway on Lougheed Highway.
New businesses are popping up, intersections are being improved, and the road could even see high-end bus stops or shelters to serve a Rapid Bus network in a few years.
In September, TransLink starts a feasibility study for such a service linking Maple Ridge to Coquitlam Centre and the new Evergreen SkyTrain line.
Even though the road is a provincial highway, Maple Ridge wants to improve the stretch between 222nd Street and the Pitt Meadows border and has put the creation of a work plan that would outline what happens and when on its to-do list.
“Maple Ridge is a linear community. Because of the mountains and rivers, we’ve developed differently,” said Mayor Ernie Daykin.
According to a staff report, Lougheed Highway is already improving.
The district’s commercial-industrial strategy calls for densification of existing malls and the use of brick, wood and stone on building exteriors. Builders also have to ensure the street fronts look good and that landscaping be used to create “focal points for pedestrians, passing drivers and building tenants.”
“Over time … the ultimate result will be an improved streetscape.”
The report also notes the arrival, or renovation, of several businesses in the last few years such as Brown’s Social House, Kal Tire, Carline Muffler, Marv Jones Honda, Wing’s Restaurant and Pub and Mark’s Work Wearhouse has already changed appearances.
With commercial areas identified as Maple Meadows Way to 119th Avenue, Laity Street intersection and 216th Street intersection, the remaining stretches are allotted to multi-family and higher density.
Pedestrians haven’t been forgotten in the plans for the western stretch of Lougheed. Sidewalks are already on both sides, though with checkered quality. There’s now also the multi-use bike path between Laity and 216th streets, while the draft transportation plan says there must be sidewalks on least one side of the road near Ridge Meadows Hospital, Westgate shopping mall and Maple Meadows West Coast Express station.
More decorative elements, such as a gateway to the downtown, banners or public art could also dress up the main drag.
Coun. Al Hogarth has previously called for densification of the western area between downtown Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Improving Lougheed is “part of the whole program to encourage a more direct route,” for transit, he said.
The report says several plans or projects will be complementary to an improved Lougheed Hwy. The draft transportation plan, the Rapid Bus plan currently underway by TransLink, and the commercial-industrial strategy will all contribute to an work plan for Lougheed Hwy. that will set out the costs, timing and funding sources.