07/07/2015 12:24 EDT | Updated 07/06/2016 05:59 EDT

Highway 1 on North Shore seeing increased traffic due to construction boom

Long-time Metro Vancouver commuters may remember a time when traffic on Highway 1 in North Vancouver was fairly smooth sailing, unless there was a stall or an accident.

But over the past two years, traffic on that section of the highway has become backed up during the afternoons as people head southbound towards the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge.

The same type of congestion occurs in the mornings as people head north, with traffic sometimes piling up as far back as Willingdon Avenue in Burnaby.

A new report by the Transportation Ministry suggests that the traffic woes are caused by more people working on the North Shore, particularly in the residential construction industry due to a building boom.

"There's been a measurable spike of traffic coming through to the North Shore that indicates perhaps more folks who are working in the trades, working in the service sector … are now coming farther to the North Shore," said District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton.

He says the change indicates that decisions to expand or invest in infrastructure in one particular part of Metro Vancouver could have an unforeseen or unintended effect in other areas.  

Walton says he recalls a time when morning traffic along the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge consisted of roughly 70 per cent of cars heading southbound, and 30 per cent northbound. Now, the ratio is about 50-50.

The district, the province and the federal government have announced investment for certain transit upgrades in North Vancouver — such as replacing the 70-year-old Keith Road Bridge over Lynn Creek. But Walton says the work will take years, and it won't alleviate congestion anytime soon.