The Township of Langley has decided to move forward with upgrade plans for Old Yale Road, which will include a commemorative feature as well as better access for pedestrians and cyclists.
“I think it will definitely enhance the road but keep it very much in the style and size that it has always been, but we will also upgrade the services and so forth at the same time,” said Elaine Horricks, Heritage Planner with the Township.
Due to the road’s heritage designation, special care was taken to preserve its historical elements, Horricks explained. She said they looked at the geo-technical aspects of the road and took a topographical survey along with completing an archaeological overview assessment and a heritage impact assessment.
“Those were the key and major studies that comprised the background from Old Yale Road, and from there we developed a number of options that were narrowed down to three very distinct and different options.”
The Township Council elected to go with the “commemorative option”, and according to Langley Township’s Manager of Transportation, engineer Paul Cordeiro, consultants are still finalizing the plans.
“Then we would include into next year’s capital budget some funding to start undertaking the work in terms of the detailed design and the actual construction. We are probably going to phase it over several years due to the high cost,” he said.
Cordeiro said all three options the Township considered came in between $4.5 to $5 million dollars.
“That is something that would probably have to be phased in over a two- or three-year period. So there will be no physical work starting this year.”
Horricks said the plan included a commemorative feature for the area.
“We will be looking at an actual location for that, and that will address the history of the road for passers-by. It will be incorporated into the multi-use path that will be part of this that will trail along beside the road for pedestrians and so forth,” she explained.
One extra element will be the use of two materials – concrete and asphalt.
“There are some thoughts to even utilizing some of the existing concrete on the road itself,” Cordeiro said. “Some of the panels – possibly even using that as part of a sidewalk or some type of a plaque that we can use within the multi-use path.”
History of Old Yale Road
Old Yale Road has a long, long history in the Langley area. It began as the Yale Wagon Road during the gold rush in the 1850s, Horricks explained.
“It eventually became Yale Road. It was built in and around 1872 to 1874. In 1874 the Langley municipality requested and received money from the province to make that particular trunk road suitable for buggy traffic through Langley.
“The road passed through the small settlement of Langley prairie and opened up new land south of the Fraser. So this section also contributed to the early settlement of Murrayville as a community because it was coming through at that time.”
She said the road was gravelled in the late 1890s and paved in 1922.
Interest in Old Yale Road’s heritage designation began in the 1990s, and in 2010 it officially received heritage designation status.
“I think there is a benefit in keeping it in the sense that it is what you might consider a historic asset for the community,” she said.
“Historic Murrayville was the second community to be settled in the Township, after Fort Langley. That came about as a result of building these roads that allowed access to more inland areas and away from the Fraser River. So, in that regard it has to do with our roots, and in that respect it is important to the history of our Township.
“In the Township we have a lot of different historic resources in different forms. This just happens to be road infrastructure as opposed to a building, but it is still valued for what it contributed to in terms of the development of the Township.”
Cordeiro said he expected the final plans for Old Yale Road to be part of the Council’s 2017 budget deliberations.