Nearly 3 years since construction began, SFU’s new Sustainable Energy & Environmental Engineering Building officially opened today. The opening was marked with a ceremony attended by BC’s premier John Horgan, MLA’s and other guests. The 5-storey, 220,000 sq.ft. building, designed by Vancouver’s late Bing Thom, has already become a new landmark redefining the Surrey Central area.
As just the first phase in a three-phase expansion plan for SFU in Surrey City Centre, the new building will accommodate 440 full-time students, and be home to SFU’s Mechatronics Systems Engineering (MSE) program with additional space for SFU’s Technology Entrepreneurship program.
In addition to the building itself, the development has contributed to a new high quality streetscape along University Drive with grade-separated bike lanes, benches, and a temporary corner park at 102 Avenue. The grassed corner will remain until 102A Avenue is eventually re-aligned through that space and the Surrey Central Bus Loop, as per the City Centre Plan.
After nearly 2 years of construction, the Surrey Central Station north station house expansion officially opened to the public this weekend. Designed by OMB Architects, the new 2-storey station house is now the largest entrance at the station, fronting directly onto the corner of Central Avenue and City Parkway across from Civic Plaza.
The new station house features a contemporary, open, and airy design consisting of glass, concrete, and wood materials, as well as a prominent new First Nations art installation suspended from the ceiling – ‘The Sea Captain’ by Marianne Nicolson. A new retail unit has also been added to the station next to the entrance fronting Central Avenue, but has yet to be occupied by a tenant.
This latest upgrade to Surrey Central Station is just the beginning of an even larger expansion and re-configuration to come in the future. The lands immediately west of the station, where the current North Surrey Recreation Centre and Bus Loop sit – known as the ‘Centre Block’ are expected to be redeveloped in the coming decade. With that will come the removal of the suburban-style bus loop and re-positioning of bus bays onto streets surrounding the station. A major overhaul of the station is expected at that time to modernize and better integrate it into its evolving urban context.
The City of Surrey began a series of 3 open houses on Thursday for Phase 1 of the upcoming Surrey LRT project. This latest public engagement is the 3rd round of open houses on Phase 1 the project, providing refined plans based on public input from previous consultations. Presented at the open house were preliminary station designs, road designs, information on construction planning, environmental and socio-economic study results, and more. A full set of the Open House Boards can be found here.
Overall, stations are designed to be highly visible, well-lit, and well integrated into the community – accessible by well-marked pedestrian crossings providing universal accessibility for all riders. Lengthy platform shelters protect riders from weather, and include space for ATM’s, information boards, seating, and more – while maintaining a clear line of sight to the street and approaching trains. Stations will in most cases be located in the centre median of the street, with the exception of King George, Surrey Central and Newton Town Centre – where they will be plaza oriented, or off to the side. Public art will also be integrated into stations along the route.
LRT will run on its own dedicated track for the entirety of the line, with the exception of City Parkway where it will be integrated into a pedestrian plaza. Placement of the LRT track will vary – typically located in the centre median for most of the route, but off to the side in some sections.
Roadway design for 104 Avenue will consist of LRT in the centre median, and 1 traffic lane in each direction, widening to include an additional turning lane at major intersections. The 104 Avenue design will also provide upgraded and enhanced sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, and connections to stations. Currently 104 Avenue functions as a non-pedestrian friendly, busy arterial for cars. A re-purposed 104 Avenue with LRT will transform the street into a calmed, pedestrianized and transit-oriented corridor, supported by multi-family housing and streetfront shops along the route. The newly widened 100 Avenue and existing 108th Avenue corridors will become the new car-prioritized east-west routes between City Centre and Guildford while 104 Avenue will be the pedestrian/transit prioritized corridor.
Roadway design for King George Blvd will retain 2 traffic lanes in each direction while allowing for LRT in the median for the majority of the route. Sections of King George in City Centre will see LRT routed off to one side. New separated bike lanes, enhanced sidewalks, and pedestrian crossings will also be a key component of the re-designed King George.
Pedestrianized Plazas at Surrey Central & King George Stations
Taking inspiration from leading cities around the world, Surrey Central and King George Stations in City Centre are designed to be integrated into new pedestrianized public plazas. These plazas will help to create vibrant transfer points between LRT and SkyTrain’s expo line, similar to plaza’s found throughout Europe with multi-modal rail connections running through them.
Socio-Economic Study: Improved Travel Times
A key finding of the socio-economic study released at the open house, was the improvement in travel times that LRT will offer over the existing 96 B-Line bus service, as well as private automobile. Under Section 7.2 of the study it was found that the existing 96 B-Line service between Guilford-Newton currently takes 29 minutes under ideal conditions. During periods of congestion however, this trip can take longer than 50 minutes. Further, this travel time is expected to worsen as population grows. LRT is able to cut this travel time by up to half, taking a consistent 27-minutes every time, on opening day, and a decade later, due to its dedicated track. In addition to this, LRT offers faster service and improved experience due to:
More doors for boarding, significantly reducing stop times at stations, and travel times overall.
Nearly twice as frequent peak service as the existing 96 B-Line peak bus service.
A smoother, more comfortable ride than B-Line bus, with less stop and go.
Integration with the Community
One of the key benefits of LRT is its integration with the community and streetscape compared to SkyTrain. While SkyTrain serves well as a long distance commuter rail service, LRT is better suited to more localized routes in the region – similar to other cities where there are various tiers of rail transit making up the regional transit network. Not every line in a city needs to be the same type of rail transit – LRT, Subway, and Commuter Rail are often combined to compliment each other and serve different needs. The introduction of LRT to Metro Vancouver represents a maturing of our rail transit network into a multi-modal system, and it is very likely we will see LRT implemented elsewhere in the region following Surrey.
In Surrey, the 104 Avenue and King George Highway corridors that make up the ‘L’ line are much better suited to urban-style LRT than SkyTrain. Not only is this route more localized than regionally serving, but SkyTrain just doesn’t make sense from a cost perspective, and the impacts that such guideways would have on the streetscapes. Looking at a comparison between SkyTrain guideways in Richmond City Centre and Coquitlam City Centre, it is clear to see how much better LRT integrates with the streetscape and community it passes through, rather than bisecting it with an obtrusive, shadowing, and noisy concrete structure. LRT can transform a streetscape into an inviting, pedestrian friendly, vibrant urban environment – whereas SkyTrain does the opposite.
Rendering of the new North Station House interior concourse at Surrey Central Station.
A press conference was held Friday to announce that the long awaited upgrades to Surrey Central Station will begin next month. The project itself has been known about and in the planning stages for quite sometime now, with construction originally supposed to have begun back in fall 2016. With this delay, it appears the upgrades will now not be complete until towards the end of 2018. The station upgrade is a part of TransLink’s station upgrade program, which has seen upgrades at Scott Rd, Main Street, and New Westminster Stations, as well as the ongoing work on Metrotown, Commercial-Broadway, and Joyce-Collingwood Stations.
In all, 3 levels of government and TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond joined on Friday to announce $25 million in funding for the station, which will see a new north station house built at the corner of 103 Avenue and City Parkway. The new station house will bring a new elevator, new escalators, a new staircase, better lighting, and a spacious new interior concourse area to the north end of the station, better connecting to Civic Plaza and the future 103 Avenue on-street bus exchange. The new station house will also help to fill in a gap along City Parkway with new building frontage where a small parking lot currently exists, improving continuity along the streetscape.
With an estimated nearly 30,000 commuters passing through Surrey Central Station daily, it is already one of the busiest stations on the SkyTrain network, and projected to become even busier with continued rapid population growth South of the Fraser, the densifying Surrey Central neighbourhood around it, and with the future LRT line planned to connect directly with the station in the next 5 years. Already, the north fire exit of the station is being frequently used as an informal exit by many commuters, indicating demand for access at this end of the station, with new bus bays having been located to the north in recent years. The new upgrades will greatly improve access to the station and better integrate it with the surrounding community.
Rendering of the new North Station House fronting City Parkway at 103 Avenue
Plan view of the new North Station House at City Parkway and 103 Avenue
Elevation schematic showing the integration of the new station house into the existing station
Vancouver’s Prado Cafe is coming to 3 Civic Plaza this fall. Revealed today in a video produced by Surrey604 on the under-construction tower, the trendy coffee house/bakery is set to open their first location outside of Vancouver in a brand new space fronting Surrey’s new Civic Plaza. Prado Cafe is a well-rated, local chain serving freshly baked-in-store goods, 49th Parallel coffee, and lunch / brunch style food options. The chain’s other locations include Gastown, Commercial Drive, and Fraser Street in East Vancouver.
Prado Cafe will be a much welcomed addition to the Surrey Central area, and is a sure sign of the revitalization underway in the neighbourhood. It will offer locals and visitors a new independent option for fresh quality food and coffee.