A freight train rolls along White Rock's waterfront.

Transport Canada grants White Rock railway-review extension

White Rock and BNSF now have until the end of the year to complete a waterfront rail-safety review requested by Transport Canada.

The City of White Rock and BNSF now have until the end of the year to complete a waterfront rail-safety review requested by Transport Canada.

City engineer Greg St. Louis confirmed Wednesday that a request for more time – the review was originally due Oct. 31 – was granted this week.

The federal agency called for the study following the July 14 death of jogger Anita Lewis, who was struck by a passenger train while jogging across tracks in the 15600-block of Marine Drive.

St. Louis asked for the extension last week, citing the challenges of ensuring that all of the parties involved have adequate time to give their input on findings and recommendations of a consultant hired to look into the issue in detail.

The consultant’s report is not yet finished.

Last Thursday, a preliminary walk-through of the entire waterfront track area was undertaken with the consultant and city and BNSF officials.

St. Louis told Peace Arch News the tour identified gaps in the existing black handrail that separates the track from the promenade that will have to be closed; as well, paths worn by people routinely bypassing the pedestrian crossings were noted.

While no conclusions have been reached, St. Louis said the discussion regarding trackside fencing touched on ensuring it is “not climbable.” One recommendation that may come forward is to install vertical rails, he said.

He said it was interesting to learn that guidelines regarding train whistles only require that they be sounded as the locomotives enter the waterfront area, and that if pedestrian crossings are fully protected, “per the standard, they don’t have to whistle at any crossings.”

“Basically, what you want to do is direct people to the crossings and don’t provide them access in-between,” he said. “So if we fully protected the other areas and fill in the gaps with the missing handrail, technically they would not have to blow the whistle at all.”

St. Louis said the issue of addressing concerns is not cut-and-dried.

“Everybody wants safety, for sure, but we have to maintain the look and feel of the community, too,” he said.


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