Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Rail Bridge

Way back on April 21st, Township of Langley Councillor Charlie Fox noted that freight traffic through the Langleys was, has, and will continue to be a major issue. He then explained that replacing the over 100-year-old rail bridge at New Westminster should be a major priority.

Replacing the bridge will cut-down on the amount of trains going through Langley (many trains are currently going between Vancouver and Deltaport via Mission and Langley due, in part, to the poor condition and capacity issues with the New Westminster bridge) and would also allow improved Amtrak service. The new bridge could be built to handle light rail, trucks, bikeway, etc to allow better multimodal access across the river. In fact, even the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council has identified that the New Westminster Rail Bridge needs replacement.

To that end, the Mayor and Council decided to write a letter to Langley MP Mark Warawa expressing their concerns and need to replace the bridge. They received the following letter back:

“I agree that the Fraser River Rail Bridge is reaching the end of its life and is a bottleneck that causes trains to be diverted through Langley. The Langley rail issue is one of my high priorities and I will continue to look for a resolution to this concern.”

This is good to hear, and I hope meaningful, because back in April 2006 he said,
I am working along with Langley municipal and provincial governments toward a short-term goal of the Mufford/Glover interchange as well as a long-term project which could involve re-routing the line outside of Langley's core. I served as member of the Langley Rail Task Force, which is a consortium of stakeholders, including municipal representatives, the VPA, the BC government, the railways and others. The Task Force was charged with looking into all avenues to satisfy the rail issues facing Langley.

I have been very active on this issue and finally gotten Transport Canada to agree to implement a study into alternative routes for the rail line through the Fraser Valley, which should commence in the new year. One suggested alternative route would be to construct a “Y” at Colebrook Road, and utilize the Burlington Northern line as part of the route. We are also looking at the necessity of replacing the Patullo rail bridge and how that project might best fit into the overall rail traffic issue in the lower mainland, not just Langley.

I am working diligently with others on this issue, and consider it a top priority of my mandate. I am confident that the political will exists on all sides to ensure an amiable resolution to theses issues. I would ask that you please contact the Township of Langley website for more information from local government on this most important issue.
Funding was provided for the proposed Mufford-Glover road/rail overpass as part of the $75 million Roberts Bank Rail Corridor Road/Rail Grade Separations. (As a note, the federal government also set aside $365 million for the South Fraser Perimeter Road.) We are still waiting on the alternate rail study.

Photos from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dennissylvesterhurd/


Unknown said...

I love the ending or Mr. Warawa's letter. WTF, WWII?

Joe Zaccaria said...

Yeah, I guess we as Canadians should be very proud of that?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that was odd. And difficult to believe... wasn't the present TransCanada Highway built in the 1960s (the overpasses say 1963 on them)? Wouldn't that have been a big infrastructure project?