The Little Campbell railway bridge.

The Little Campbell railway bridge.

Little Campbell train trestle talks on track

Meeting between BNSF and Semiahmoo First Nation are scheduled to formulate replacement plan for Little Campbell rail bridge

Meetings between BNSF and Semiahmoo First Nation are planned for later this month to discuss replacing the contentious Little Campbell River railway bridge.

However, BNSF spokesperson Gus Melonas maintains, following “third party” inspections, that he is confident the trestle on First Nation land east of White Rock is able to withstand the current tonnage of trains travelling over it.

Melonas said Wednesday that both BNSF and Transport Canada are actively involved in monitoring the bridge’s safety. That said, Melonas acknowledges the company would like to get started soon on a $1.3 million replacement bridge.

“We’re looking forward to agreeing on access issues, so that we can go ahead with preliminary work – we’d like to begin the process as early as possible,” he said, noting the company respects the fact that the existing bridge – built in 1921 – sits on Semiahmoo land.

Repeated efforts by Peace Arch News to reach Semiahmoo band councillor Joanne Charles for comment have not been successful.

The planned bridge is to consist of two 40-foot steel spans replacing an 80-foot steel span, itself a replacement dating back to the early 1940s.

The bridge has drawn media attention of late, with BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix and Bill Brehl, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Maintenance of Way Employees Division president,  both weighing in with concerns about safety.

The recent rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Que. also prompted White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin to write to Transport Canada sounding the alarm about the deteriorated condition of the bridge.

Rotting of the bridge’s metal work has been noticeable for years, but Melonas said crucial elements of the structure remain sound for the 11 to 15 freight trains, plus passenger trains, that travel the route daily.

Maintenance work on the current bridge will continue next week with the replacement of timber shims with steel, plus new bracing and brackets, Melonas said, adding that expert inspection of the bridge is ongoing, and the company would not operate the bridge if it did not comply with safety standards.

“Our goal is to continue to protect the safety of the railroad, the public and the environment,” he said.

While maintenance work can be done from the rail bed, construction of a new bridge will require the building of a temporary road onto Semiahmoo First Nation property, plus the driving of pilings to support the new spans.

Once underway, the construction is expected to last four months, Melonas said, with rail lines being kept open throughout the process.

“We’ll be maintaining our daily schedules, but we’ll be using windows of time when we can get our workers in there.”

The work on the Little Campbell River bridge is part of continuing investment into BNSF’s all-important corridor connecting the U.S. and Canada, Melonas said.

That includes $5 million earmarked this year for a the first phase of a new approach bridge to the Serpentine River crossing, plus some $2.2 million in “overall track upgrades” in the Lower Mainland.

Just Posted

William Henry Rawlison was last seen on Sunday, June 20, 2021. (Contributed photo)
Police looking for missing White Rock senior

William Rawlison, last seen on June 20, may be driving to Kamloops

Natalie Brown and Colten Wilke star in the feature film Thunderbird, co-produced by South Surrey-raised Michael Morrison and released this month in Canada, the U.S and the U.K. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey-raised producer helps bring ‘Thunderbird’ to the screen

Michael Morrison guides B.C.-shot thriller with First Nations connection

File photo
Surrey Board of Trade vows ‘a lot of noise’ will be made about tax increases

Huberman calls for comprehensive tax review at all levels of government

2019 Red Serge Gala guests try their luck at roulette. (Simon Lau photo)
High hopes for in-person Red Serge Gala on Semiahmoo Peninsula

28th fundraiser for community safety programs set for Oct. 23 return

TEASER PHOTO ONLY - Hillcrest Drive-In's sign at the end its run in Surrey, in a photo uploaded to cinematreasures.org by hermangotlieb.
SURREY NOW & THEN: The city’s last drive-in, Hillcrest showed movies for 50 years on site turned shopping mall

‘It was a good memory, being the last drive-in in the Lower Mainland, at the time,’ says former operator Jay Daulat

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

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

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read