A pivotal time in Pitt Meadows infrastructure development continued to inch along this week.
Mayor Bill Dingwall and council hosted an engagement and priorities committee meeting where representatives from Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and Canadian Pacific Railway briefed those gathered on the road and rail improvements project.
For residents living near the rails, or those affected by the traffic caused by their crossings, the project holds considerable significance.
An underpass is planned for the crossing over Harris Road, an overpass is planned for Kennedy Road, and some track reconfiguration is in the works to accommodate an uptick in train traffic over the course of the next ten years.
Dingwall pointed out the public engagement piece has been important.
Sessions were held for the community to give its input on track configuration (April 21 and 24), as well as talk about the noise and vibration studies recently completed ( April 26 and 28).
Both were well attended with around 200 residents taking part.
“They’re trying to provide context so that our community understands what CP is wanting to do, and how it’s in the national interest of international trade,” Dingwall said.
He also noted the changes are going to come regardless of the city agreeing or not agreeing to (the Harris Road) underpass.
“What we’re trying to do is get the very best for our city,” he said, referring to the role of council in the upcoming infrastructure overhaul.
“Which includes an underpass to help our emergency responders and congestion in our community.”
As it is, traffic delays at the Harris Road railway crossing are more than three hours a day. Conditions in 2030 could see wait times double that.
“We know the trains are going to come,” Dingwall said. “So we’re trying to influence decisions that will be in our city’s best interest.”
The mayor noted he and council have been in active negotiations over the past two years with the port authority and CP on design, and construction components, as well as making sure noise and vibration is tolerable for those living nearby.
“We continue to work away at an agreement,” he said.
The situation might not be ideal for everyone, Dingwall said.
“If we had to do it again, we probably wouldn’t build within 300 metres of a train track, or if we did it would be industrial type buildings, but unfortunately (the rails) go right through our residential area.
“That’s why there’s a significant amount of interest in the noise that’s occurring,” he said.
“So we’re looking at it and we are going to inquire as to whether they’re staying within regulations as we speak, never mind (when there is) new infrastructure.”
Bottom line is, train traffic is here to stay.
“Every one of us use products that are transported by rail, and it does take a lot of trucks off the road,” Dingwall said.
“It’s part of our society, it’s in the national interest, and we’re just trying to find that sweet spot for our city that makes sense to us and our community.”
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