The Harris Road underpass and other rail projects in Pitt Meadows are one step closer to construction.
Friday, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority announced its commitment to fund $39.1 million toward the project, while at the Hoffman Garage, near the Harris Road CP Rail crossing.
The federal government announced funding a year ago, and the port authority has signed a formal agreement to receive $48.8 million from the federal government for the projects, which include a four-lane underpass at Harris Rd. and a two-lane overpass at Kennedy Road.
With about two-thirds of the funding in place, more funding is still needed, as the project is anticipated to cost $141.1 million.
As a next step, the authority is working with the City of Pitt Meadows and CPR to finalize agreements for funding and project implementation.
“This important milestone represents the culmination of a great deal of work by each of the organizations over the past seven months,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall. “Rail grade separations in Pitt Meadows will mean that police, fire and ambulance services will be able to get to incidents faster and more easily. Public safety will be greatly improved. Commutes will become more reliable and, ultimately, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians will find it much easier to move around our community. Council will continue to advocate for the best interests of the community as we move toward finalizing the Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the project partners.”
CPR assistant vice-president Jeff Edwards said the company is motivated to see the projects happen, and took the funding announcement as good news. The next step, he said, is to complete detailed negotiations between the funding partners.
Part of the project is a new rail siding track for parking trains, including a new rail bridge over Katzie Slough, to support the Vancouver Intermodal Terminal (led by CP), which is designed to accommodate growing trade while reducing train whistling noise in the community.
”The port authority will also work with the City of Pitt Meadows, local indigenous groups, and the community to identify opportunities for improvements to walking and cycling facilities and public space improvements, such as indigenous cultural recognition, public art, seating, and integration of native species in landscaping plans,” says a release.
The projects in Pitt Meadows were identified as priorities through a planning process called the Gateway Transportation Collaboration Forum. The forum manages growing trade and movement of goods. It is made up of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Transport Canada, TransLink, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council.
In 2018, the Government of Canada announced that the project, along with several others throughout the region, would receive funding through Transport Canada’s $2 billion National Trade Corridors Fund.
“Canada is a trading nation. With our new trade agreements in place, we now have access to 1.4 billion more customers,” said Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Dan Ruimy. “This is why our trade corridor infrastructure investments are so critical to our national and local economies. These investments will ensure that Canadians can get their goods to market efficiently and remain competitive. This is also good news for local residents as their concerns of not only traffic congestion, but the potential response time of emergency services operating around the rail crossings will also be addressed. I am thrilled to see that this project is beginning to move forward.”