A graphic of the proposed underpass and what Harris Road would look like, shared by the Port of Vancouver. (Special to The News)

A graphic of the proposed underpass and what Harris Road would look like, shared by the Port of Vancouver. (Special to The News)

Pitt Meadows council endorses partnering agreement for Harris Road underpass

City holds next community engagement in the spring

Pitt Meadows council gave a green light to signing a Project Partnering Agreement (PPA) with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and Canadian Pacific (CP) to advance work on the Harris Road underpass project, during a council meeting Wednesday.

During the Dec. 14 meeting, council debated the issue of whether or not the city should be endorsing and getting into a partnership with the port authority and CP for the Harris Road underpass project – a component of the Pitt Meadows road and rail improvements project.

The council, after much deliberation, decided to endorse the partnership, said Mayor Bill Dingwall, who described the decision as an important moment in the history of the community.

“The Harris Road underpass will improve public safety and response times for police, fire, and ambulance services – which will translate into saving of lives,” Dingwall said.

“Council, staff, and the community have achieved more noise and vibration mitigation than initially offered with the potential to increase mitigation further if additional project funding is secured. As well, the community will gain an underpass that will relieve traffic congestion, make commuting easier and more reliable—with no design or structural construction costs to the city,” he added.

In terms of the noise and vibration study, the results of the city’s independent Peer Review of the port authority’s noise and vibration study, as well as the additional monitoring along the rail corridor, determined that the study by the port authority was appropriately conducted. The city’s consultant has now recommended that the height of certain walls may need to be taller than proposed to provide effective mitigation.

Signing of the partnership will allow the project partners to progress with the design of the Harris Road underpass, with future consultation planned with the community and the city having a seat at the table.

It will provide what Dingwall calls the ability to play a meaningful role in shaping the future of Harris Road.

This agreement is the next step to advancing technical design work for the underpass since a non-binding memorandum of understanding was signed in 2019.

The port authority, as the project lead, will now proceed with engaging a design-build contractor, while the city will work with project partners to take next steps to progress the design and planning work.

The project partners will together be working towards advancing the construction agreement that will include the final scope of work, schedule, roles, responsibilities, a construction management plan to mitigate impacts and a traffic management plan to provide Harris Road utilization during construction.

ALSO READ: Pitt Meadows resident concerned about CP’s plans for third track

The city’s chief administrative officer Mark Roberts noted that the Harris Road crossing has been a concern among residents and discussed by city councils and staff since the 1970s.

“As well, the PPA represents the culmination of years of extensive negotiations, numerous revisions, weekly meetings, and countless hours of staff time. Council and staff are proud of what has been achieved in these negotiations, including plans for the relocation of the museum and heritage buildings to create a heritage site,” he said.

The port authority plans to hold the next community engagement session in the spring, which will feature more information and details about the Harris Road underpass, information about the heritage building relocation, and updates on the revises noise and vibration reports.

ALSO READ: Shifting Harris road, part of Port Authority’s update on Rail and Road Improvements Project

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