LETTERS: Rail-moving arguments

Editor:

Re: Trains can be gone in 5 years: Baldwin; Hepner pledges to relocate trains, Sept. 18.

Editor:

Re: Trains can be gone in 5 years: Baldwin, Sept. 11; Hepner pledges to relocate trains, Sept. 18.

The inevitable relocation of the Boundary Bay rail will have little to do with the relative worth of blueberry fields or the ocean foreshore.

It will be driven by simple math.

The new route will be five kilometres shorter and 30 minutes faster. The shorter, wider, faster route is not only safer, it gives a direct return on investment. It will support Port Metro Vancouver growth, and the expansion of Canada-U.S. trade. It will complement the port’s investment in Roberts Bank, and secure Canada’s economic relevance, for the next 100 years.

The main artery for moving goods between Canada and the U.S. is a single track, winding along a bay, under an unstable bluff, with no possible emergency access from land or sea. It crosses three rivers, two bird sanctuaries and a 100-year-old swing bridge. It bisects two level crossings, a boat launch, and serves as a hiking path for thousands of beach visitors.

In 12 years, freight along the bay has grown four times, and PMV projects further increases. The once sleepy old corridor has isolated the foreshore communities, as it runs out of capacity.

The reason it has not moved sooner is because the math didn’t need it to. Ironically, the problem has brought the solution. The only remaining question is when.

Once answered, it will unlock a 12-mile national treasure for the benefit of the nearly one million people living south of the Fraser. It will forever change the evolution of the area, by allowing the flow of people and ideas between Vancouver and the emerging bay communities. Efficient trade and visionary urban planning will accelerate capital investment into the country’s fastest growing region. It will improve the backyard for every Canadian.

Erik Seiz, Crescent Beach Property Owners Association

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Your article on Linda Hepner quoted fellow mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode as stating that while she agrees rail safety is a priority for cities across Canada, moving the tracks is not a decision “that can be made as an election promise… not one that we will have much direct impact on.”

Rasode deserves credit for not pandering to the electorate by promising us things we cannot afford. Any politician who promises to move the tracks must explain why the safety of residents of one South Surrey neighbourhood is $500 million more important than the safety of residents of other South Surrey neighbourhoods.

Meanwhile, can we do something to ensure the safety of Crescent Beach, Ocean Park and White Rock residents? There’s already a speed limit along White Rock beach. Surrey should negotiate a 30 km/h speed limit with BNSF from the U.S. border all the way to the Nicomekl River bridge, because a derailment at that low speed is very unlikely to turn into a catastrophe.

What can be done when stopped trains block the road to Crescent Beach? A pedestrian overpass or tunnel should be constructed immediately at the Beecher Street crossing to give emergency crews foot access to the area, and basic firefighting and first-aid equipment, including ambulance stretchers, should be cached in a convenient place near the beach.

Finally, a safe helicopter landing area should be designated in the Blackie Spit parking lot, should it be necessary to transport an urgent medical case.

As for the $499 million this would save all levels of government, just send it to me because I’m sure I can find better ways to spend it!

Gary Cameron, Surrey

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If or when they ever move the rail line, wouldn’t it be nice to have a walkway and bicycle path from White Rock to Crescent Beach in its place?

Lena Hunter, Surrey

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Get rid of coal trains because of imaginary coal dust.

Coal that was sprayed with a sealant at the mine and had travelled at speeds of 60 mph for over a thousand miles and slowed to 15 mph through White Rock.

Get rid of trains because someone decided to commit suicide by train rather than jumping off the pier.

Coal trains are out. Motor vehicles are in by the thousands, spewing out carbon monoxide from idling motors. This, according to the town council, who, when God screwed on their heads, she must have screwed them on cross-threaded.

Howard Rogers, Surrey