Thursday, December 12, 2013

Port expansion could result in 60 trains a day through Langley

In October, I posted about a small group meeting I attended that Port Metro Vancouver hosted as part of its consultation about the proposed expansion of the Roberts Bank Terminal. As a result of the meeting, I learned that the Port did not plan to look at the negative impacts that would result from the expansion, including increased rail traffic, in the region.

80% of goods that are transported through the Port end up on trains. Since Langley has the main rail line that services Roberts Bank Terminal/Deltaport, people at the small group meeting were concerned about the social, economic, health, and environmental impacts from increased freight trains. I noted that even if the Port didn’t have a legal obligation to mitigate the impacts of its operation in Langley, it had a moral obligation.

We had a lot of questions at that meeting, and the Port replied a month later with some answers, though many questions still remain.

I was reading over the latest City of Langley Council Meeting Agenda which contains a report about the proposed port expansion and its potential impact to the City.

The Roberts Bank Rail Corridor currently carries approximately 22 trains per day, which is expected to increase to 28 to 38 trains a day with completion of the third birth at the existing terminal in 2016/17. Current trains can be up to 3.2 kilometres in length. With the addition of the RBT2 Project, rail traffic may potentially increase to over 60 trains per day.

200th Street and Fraser Highway would be at a standstill with approximately 3 times the rail traffic. That would mean for every hour of the day, port trains would cause 50 minutes of delay! The increased traffic could limit redevelopment opportunity and threaten the long-term revitalization of the City of Langley and even Brookswood.

Of course, there is also the health impacts of increased diesel emissions from trains which is linked to chronic illness and premature death.

On November 8th, the Port submitted draft Environmental Impact Statement Guidelines to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. The guidelines did not consider any of the impacts that the proposed expansion will have on the region, expect for the immediate area where the proposed facility will be built.

City of Langley staff have recommended that Council request that Port Metro Vancouver complete a full analysis of the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project including the impacts from increased road and rail traffic along the corridor. The results of the analysis would guide how the Port could mitigate the negative impacts.

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