A BNSF trestle bridge near Crescent Beach: building an underpass beneath the tracks would be a more economical way to deal with some of the safety issues according to a report from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation

A BNSF trestle bridge near Crescent Beach: building an underpass beneath the tracks would be a more economical way to deal with some of the safety issues according to a report from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation

Underpass idea doesn’t rule out Semiahmoo Peninsula rail move

Liberal MP says that reasons and criteria for relocation of the BNSF line deserve careful assessment

Relocation of the BNSF line off the Semiahmoo waterfront is still worthy of studying, according to a Surrey MP who is a member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities.

The committee’s report on rail safety released last week identified an underpass beneath the BNSF line in Crescent Beach as a cheaper alternative to address one of the major safety issues – the potential for access to the South Surrey community being blocked due to a stoppage of one of the lengthy freight trains that travel through the area – as well as removing the dangers of a crossing.

The report cited an estimate from BNSF that an underpass could be constructed for $35 million, as opposed to guesses on the cost of relocating the line which range from the hundreds of millions to billions of dollars.

But Fleetwood-Port Kells Liberal MP Ken Hardie says that while pursuing an underpass would be a logical step for the City of Surrey, that doesn’t necessarily mean the idea of relocating the tracks would be on a backburner.

“The report doesn’t speak to that either way,” Hardie told Peace Arch News on Friday.

“Probably what should be done is for the city and the railway to co-operate on assessment and analysis of what an underpass would cost and find out what federal infrastructure grants could be available for the work.”

At the same time, Hardie said, it must be acknowledged that there is a “call for relocation” in South Surrey and White Rock.

Under the Rail Crossing and Relocation Act, this must be done with no net cost or gain to the railway company, but Hardie suggested there could be benefits to the company in not having to incur the expense of ‘breaking’ trains in case of an emergency.

He noted the report recommended a more stringent approach by Transport Canada in requiring railway companies to draw up long-term plans to mitigate environmental impacts, including slope destabilization, mudslides and floodplain issues, as well as increasing inspections and assuming the costs of increased signage.

The committee has also examined the conditions for rail relocation, Hardie said, adding that “there are a number of reasons to relocate a rail line.”

Part of the committee’s work has included visiting Lac Mégantic in Quebec, site of the catastrophic derailment in 2013 that claimed the lives of 47 people.

“Clearly there is a desire to relocate rail out of that community,” he said. “A large amount of that community is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – they say             ‘we’re afraid of the trains’. It’s not a technical issue – it’s a therapeutic one.”

As far as South Surrey and White Rock’s tracks are concerned, Hardie said, there needs to be further study of appropriate conditions for relocating the line, and what would be a reasonable sharing of costs among different levels of government.

While the present location of the line may have made sense over 100 years ago, that might not always apply, he said.

“We have to consider the rather fragile alignment along the foreshore as we continue to deal with climate change and the potential for surge tides in the future,” he said.

South Surrey-White Rock Conservative MP Dianne Watts – also a member of the committee and a rail-relocation advocate since her days as Surrey mayor – was not available for comment.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the public will have a chance to learn about a proposal for three buildings ranging in height from 12 to 24 storeys in Semiahmoo Town Centre. A second virtual information meeting is scheduled for today (Feb. 25) and full details are also available at www.aplinmartin.com/semiahmoo. (First Capital photo rendering)
Public voice concerns about Semiahmoo highrises during virtual meeting

Proposed development could be delayed by ‘marketing philosophy’

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Surrey Mounties says they seized a luxury car, drugs and cash in Newton. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Surrey gang cops seize Alfa Romeo Stelvio, drugs and cash in Newton

This happened in the neighbourhood of 121A Street and 85A Avenue on Feb. 20

A possible cougar was spotted near South Meridian Elementary last August. Another cougar was reportedly spotted on Monday. (Megan Dolphin video screengrab)
VIDEO: Cougar sighting reported in White Rock

BC Conservation has not yet been able to confirm the report

Surrey RCMP are looking for information about a hit-and-run on Feb. 13 that they say involved this black BMW sedan. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Police search for owner of car after woman hit while walking on sidewalk in Surrey

RCMP say black BMW sedan drove up onto sidewalk and hit pedestrian in Newton on Feb. 13

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after a news conference at the legislature in Victoria on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. reports 559 new cases of COVID-19, one death

4,677 cases of the virus remain active in the province; 238 people are in hospital

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

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

Wade Dyck with Luna, a dog who went missing near the Chasm for 17 days following a rollover on Feb. 5. (Photo submitted).
Dog missing for 17 days through cold snap reunited with owner in northern B.C.

Family ecstatic to have the Pyrenees-Shepherd cross back home.

Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire. Image: The Canadian Press
Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell makes third attempt at bail on sex charges

Maxwell claims she will renounce her U.K. and French citizenships if freed

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Feds agree people with mental illness should have access to MAID — in 2 years

This is one of a number of changes to Bill C-7 proposed by the government

Most Read