A quest to identify options for improving pedestrian safety along White Rock’s waterfront rail line got underway Thursday with a tour by city and BNSF officials.
The walk-through was part of efforts to comply with a Transport Canada request for a comprehensive review of signage, signals and fencing “to determine if any changes are needed to mitigate public safety and rail safety risks.”
“We just have to assess that and determine a plan of action,” city engineer Greg St. Louis told Peace Arch News. “You do see on a daily basis people that are walking the tracks, which is unsafe.”
Triggered by the July 14 death of jogger Anita Lewis – who was struck by a passenger train as she ran across the tracks at a pedestrian crossing in the 15600-block of Marine Drive – the effort includes a review of rules that have restricted overnight train whistling in the area since August 1992.
Transport Canada’s own review of the sightlines, signage and train operation at the crossing where Lewis was killed found all elements to be in compliance with the Railway Safety Act and associated rules.
Earlier suggestions that increased fencing or signal arms may be part of the overall solution have not sat well with the city’s mayor and some councillors, who have been outspoken in their opposition to drastic changes.
Exactly what may or may not be proposed remains to be seen.
A consultant hired to conduct the joint review – at a cost of $15,000 to $18,000 – is to return to the waterfront with a team this week for a more thorough analysis.
“They’re going to… take pictures and look at each of the crossings in detail,” he said.
There are six such crossings between Finlay Street on the east and High Street on the west. West of the pier, there is just one.
St. Louis said officials Thursday could see worn paths where people have been bypassing the crossings.
He described the walk-through as a “beginning step” in the review process.
Transport Canada had requested it be completed by the end of this month.
However, St. Louis said he’ll “more than likely” be asking for more time, citing the challenge of co-ordinating schedules of all involved and the need for city and BNSF to have enough time to properly review and comment on the consultants’ findings.