BNSF officials say they are 'ready to roll' on plans to replace the rail bridge over the Little Campbell River.

BNSF officials say they are 'ready to roll' on plans to replace the rail bridge over the Little Campbell River.

BNSF launches trestle replacement, as White Rock mayor warns of potential rail disaster

Railway officials say they await Semiahmoo First Nation's permission to access site and replace bridge over Little Campbell River.

BNSF is gearing up to replace the aging rail bridge that spans the Little Campbell River in South Surrey.

All that’s needed to get the ball rolling, railway officials say, is for Semiahmoo First Nation to grant permission to access the site.

“Our plans are to replace it, we would like to replace it this year,” BNSF spokesperson Gus Melonas said Wednesday.

“However, we are working with the First Nations to arrange access rights to the property.

“We have to build a road into the site, so there’s agreement issues that have to be finalized with the First Nations, and we’re working on this. We respect the process and are working through it.”

Semiahmoo band councillor Joanne Charles did not return Peace Arch News‘ call requesting comment.

Concerns that the bridge – originally constructed in 1921, with a new span built 20 years later – is becoming unsafe have been voiced for years.

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin added his voice to the issue Thursday, in a letter emailed to Transport Canada.

Citing the recent train tragedy in Lac-Megantic, Que., Baldwin writes that he has “considerable concern” with the structure’s deteriorated condition.

“To say it is in bad shape is a gross understatement,” Baldwin writes. “Should this bridge fail while being crossed by a freight train carrying dangerous goods… it would be extremely disastrous to our residents and natural environment.”

He asks for an inspection to be done “without delay,” and for the results to be made public.

South Surrey resident Perry Adebar – a UBC professor of structural engineering – told CBC News Wednesday that the structure’s level of safety “is not adequate,” and called for immediate action.

Melonas, however, said that while maintenance issues have been identified, it is regularly inspected and safe.

“If the bridge did not comply to our safety standards, we would not be operating trains over it,” he said.

Transport Canada communications officer Sau Sau Liu said by email Thursday that a rail safety inspector “found no threat to safe railway operations” during a March 12 inspection of the bridge.

Liu added that BNSF’s Bridge Safety Management Program, which includes annual inspections, “conforms to Transport Canada guidelines.” As well, BNSF inspectors are checking the bridge on a monthly basis until the span can be replaced, and remedial repairs will be completed in the interim.

Melonas said temporary fixes planned for this month include the replacement of timber shims with steel; and the replacement of braces and some bearings.

The full span replacement is expected to cost US$1.3 million and take about four months. A design has already been finalized and the work will be planned so as not to disrupt the train schedules, he said.

“We’ll continue to move local, national, international freight through the corridor safely.”

Melonas noted the bridge over the Little Campbell is not the only work BNSF is eyeing for its B.C. lines. More than US$5 million is to be spent this year on the first phase of an “approach bridge” over the Serpentine River; another US$2.44 million is planned in other areas of the province.

Just Posted

A mixed-use development with 69 market rental units and 10 commercial units is proposed for the 2300-block of King George Boulevard. (Thinkspace rendering)
Pair of South Surrey apartment proposals move forward

Council gives third reading to rezoning applications for market-rental and residential projects

Launched in January, Uplift Canada was founded by Tsawwassen resident Maggie Larocque. (submitted photo)
Surrey shelters get clothing collected June 26 by Uplift Canada

Book a pickup on website of the new non-profit, founded by Delta resident

Converter thefts have increased dramatically as the price of platinum has skyrocketed. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press photo)
Catalytic converter thefts continue to plague Delta

Police say the thefts are on the rise across the city, with seven incidents on Thursday, June 17

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
‘Stay-at-home mom’ works to raise $25K to help Options build housing in Surrey

Tammy Bourelle boosts ‘Women of Options’ fundraising campaign, which ends June 30

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read