Monday, August 4, 2008

Royal Metal

Bill Taylor, a Board Member of South Fraser OnTrax shares this excerpt from the book, Royal Metal By Barrie Sanford. On replacing the old New Westminster Rail Bridge that had its grand opening on July, 23 1904 and celebrated its 100th year on July 23, 2004...

“Whatever happens in the years ahead, it must be said that New Westminster Bridge has done duty well beyond whatever could have been dreamed of her when she was built. More than a million trains have crossed over their bridge since it opened, and with no signs of an understudy waiting in the wings. New Westminster Bridge will not be allowed to retire for quite a while yet. During her hundred years she was known as “The Lucky Lady” and “The Ice Cream Cone Bridge.” The vessel captains on the river had a few additional names for her, which will be omitted from this tribute. But through it all she has endured. She has withstood floods, fires, earthquakes and countless bangs and scrapes from vessels. Her construction, and her many repairs and overhauls, have been consistently marked by good planning, skilled management and dedicated people.”

“People, in fact, remain an indelible part of the bridge’s history. In the more than 40 years the author has spent talking with people associated with New Westminster Bridge, But the big hunk of metal called New Westminster Bridge won more than its share of men’s hearts over the years. If John Waddell called her “The Lucky Lady” a century ago, perhaps we should call her “The Grand Lady” for the century ahead.”

"The city of New Westminster Mayor and council tried for a number of years to build a rail and vehicle bridge to what we now know as Surrey in the 1800s. It does seem though they made a mistake when they insisted that engineer Mr. John Waddell put it where it was built. There is a sharp bend from the start that rail companies complained of. Train cars were a lot lighter when the New Westminster Bridge was built, and now trains are a lot longer. In other words a lot of Freight Trains are using the Mission Bridge even when they are going from North Vancouver Dock Yards to Delta Port holding up Vehicle traffic on both sides of the Fraser River."

Bill says...

A new crossing just west of Port Mann would appreciably shorten the route for Canadian National Railway while adding no increased distance for Burlington Northern Santa Fe and CPR Trains. Additional distance would be incurred for Southern Rail. The question as I see it if we really want to cut down on carbon in the air we breath can we afford not to replace the New Westminster Bridge with a new Railroad bridge by itself or with the aging Pattullo Bridge?

Reading the Sun Newspaper on, Friday, August 1,2008, under the heading,“Translink Wants toll bridge to replace Pattullo” why not build the rail bridge on the same structure?

-- Submission and comments by Bill Taylor, Langley

Editor's Comments:

Nathan Blogged about this subject last week and I've been holding Bill's submission here while traveling to Portland, OR. The inter-modal bridge option discussion first appeared in this letter that the Township received from Federal Transportation Minister Canon. Of course inter-modal bridges are built all the time and many currently exist around the world. Its now a question of who will pay for it, as TransLink is responsible for the Pattullo and the Feds are responsible for the New West rail bridge. Infrastructure and money. Something that almost all levels of government in Canada want to download.


I've written about the AMTRAK Cascades train to Seattle and Portland many times, as now I NEVER drive to those two places. Last week I had to make a quick Seattle trip and came home the same day because all trains were sold out.

Late last week I took another business trip to Portland and again many trains were sold out, but I could stay a few days this time. I heard from other train buffs on my journey that these trains that used to sell out only on weekends are now selling out weekdays because of the price of gas and people wanting reasonably-prices holidays. I was told that the Empire Builder to Chicago, as well as the Coast Starlight are also selling out and people are routinely sleeping on the floor of the dinning car because all the suites are sold out!

People are loving rail travel once again and I know that if I have the time (or I can make the time), its much less stressful that air travel and also much cheaper. All aboard AMTRAK!

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