THE BUILDING OF HIGHWAY 1 and A SHORT STRETCH OF NOW FORGOTTEN, ABANDONED ROAD IN CHILLIWACK
Prior to 1960 the drive from Chilliwack to Vancouver was an interesting journey, much different than today, and of considerably longer duration (sometimes in excess of two hours).
During that era, Yale Road formed part of the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH), with the trip to and from the coast being made on just one lane in each direction.
This 1954 aerial image is centred over the Cottonwood Corners area of Chilliwack. Six years later it would accommodate Highway 1, a new cloverleaf/interchange, and the small but significant Highway 1 access roadway heading east from Yale Road West. (Image Credit: City of Chilliwack)
As the 1950s unfolded, it became apparent that the two-lane national highway to Vancouver would soon be inadequate for the region’s needs.
Consequently, on December 12, 1956, work began on a new four-lane highway between Bridal Falls and the Vedder Canal, a 31-kilometre segment that would form part of a 122-kilometre freeway straight through to West Vancouver.
This 1958 aerial image captures Chilliwack’s new Highway 1 and cloverleaf, both under construction. As evident, final connection of the east and west segments of the highway appears to have been on hold awaiting substantial completion of the cloverleaf. However, the Highway 1 access roadway was essentially in place at this time. (Image Credit: Chilliwack Progress Archives)
Chilliwack’s new highway (including the integral “cloverleaf” at Cottonwood Corners) opened on August 1, 1960, with a well-attended celebration that included provincial government cabinet ministers Phil Gaglardi and Ken Kiernan.
[Note: The cloverleaf was only two lanes wide, and this would prove to be a critical issue in years to come, although at the time this design feature appeared insignificant.]
To access the new highway, a roadway connecting it with the old TCH was created, utilizing a section of Vedder Road situated approximately 70 metres south from where the A&W would open in 1961.
This image, facing west from its east-bound lanes, was captured the afternoon of August 1, 1960, as Chilliwack’s long-anticipated segment of Highway 1 and cloverleaf officially opened. A large crowd was on hand to watch Minister of Highways Phil Gaglardi and local MLA Ken Kiernan participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate the modern new infrastructure. (Image Credit: Chilliwack
This short but vital length of roadway (approximately 125 metres) effectively led to a “fork in the road”. At that point, motorists could choose to travel over the cloverleaf into Sardis (or exit the cloverleaf and head east on Highway 1), or they could veer to the right and enter the westerly flow of Highway 1, heading towards Vancouver.
This unassuming stretch of asphalt would ultimately mean much to many people (both in reality, and in their imagination) as it represented a path to what often promised to be fun, excitement, adventure, or maybe danger.
During the latter part of the 20th century, as Chilliwack continued to grow, the two-lane Vedder Road cloverleaf became a major transportation challenge, with significant bottlenecks throughout the day.
Thus, on May 5, 2003, work started on a new five-lane Vedder Road overpass that was completed in July 2004, instantly improving Chilliwack’s traffic patterns and congestion issues.
As part of this major transportation infrastructure change in Chilliwack, the former access roadway to Highway 1 was rendered a truncated dead end. Not considered at the time a significant loss by most, this outcome was noted with a degree of sadness by some nostalgia enthusiasts and romantics, as it had represented an important crossroads (literal and figurative) in Chilliwack’s past.
This summer 1960 west-facing aerial image captures Chilliwack’s newly opened Highway 1 and cloverleaf. The Highway 1 access roadway from Yale Road West is indicated to the lower right of the photo. As trees are blocking the view, it is not clear whether hitchhikers are standing on the right side of the access roadway, just a few metres east of Yale Road West. (Image Credit: Facebook)
Today the former Highway 1 access roadway is a forgotten and neglected piece of Chilliwack’s charm and history. The road’s pavement has been removed and replaced by dirt and vegetation, and illegal garbage dumping is not uncommon.
When Highway 1 opened in 1960, it brought about a number of changes to life in Chilliwack, including creation of the access roadway, now a long-gone part of a different era, its heyday still recalled fondly by some Chilliwackians.
This 2021 east-facing image captures the once high-profile Highway 1 access roadway - now an overgrown and neglected memory from an earlier time. During the latter part of the 20th century this relatively small, insignificant piece of real estate represented the path to what often promised to be fun, excitement, adventure, or maybe even some danger. (Image Credit: Chilliwack History