The long-awaited replacement of the Little Campbell trestle bridge is to take place Thursday.
BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas confirmed this week that a 14-hour window has been scheduled for the $2-million project, getting underway at 8 a.m. Nov. 20.
“We’ll have a crane on-site, it’ll be on the track with a power unit and multiple flatcars,” Melonas said. “The old bridge will be taken out with a crane, the new bridge will be replaced with a crane.
“We’ll have a new bridge in operation by Friday.”
The condition of the bridge has been the subject of concern for more than a year, in particular as the City of White Rock continues to push to stop the transportation of dangerous goods along the line.
BNSF earmarked it for replacement in 2011.
Melonas said Transport Canada granted authorization to conduct the work. He would not comment as to whether it has received a similar thumbs-up from the Semiahmoo First Nation.
SFN councillor Joanne Charles told Peace Arch News Monday the band is consulting with Aboriginal Affairs about the project, since it asserts the land on which the bridge and the line sit was “not expropriated for railway use” when the line was built in the early 1900s.
Charles said that while BNSF told the band earlier this year that it had a plan for replacing the bridge without gaining access through SFN property, the details were not known until after Transport Canada had granted necessary permits.
Charles said SFN doesn’t know what mitigation is planned should there be a mishap.
“My biggest fear is what if the bridge falls?” she said. “What if it’s so old it crumbles when they try to lift it?”
Melonas said BNSF advised the band of the work to come.
“We’re pleased that Transport Canada has authorized this project and we will ensure that we will not impact the First Nation land.”
– with files from Alex Browne