A recent study has floated the possibility of a $50 million Marshall Road upgrade that could help mitigate the effects of increasing rail traffic through central Abbotsford.
The project is still far from becoming a reality, but Mike Kelly, the city’s transportation manager, said the studies could be used to determine how federal funds destined for trade-related infrastructure projects are spent.
An overpass that would bridge a pair of rail lines that run south through the city is one of 29 potential infrastructure upgrades identified in a pair of studies looking at improvements to Lower Mainland trade routes.
The Marshall project was identified in a study of the Roberts Bank trade area commissioned by TransLink. It noted that while it wouldn’t improve trade, it “would mitigate the impacts of trade volume.”
The report said the project would increase emergency access across the rail lines and improve pedestrian and cycling facilities. Staff say the city remains interested in a crossing north of Highway 1 but that consideration of a location of a crossing – whether at Marshall, George Ferguson Way, Essendene Avenue or Maclure Road – will be part of the development of the city’s new Transportation Master Plan.
Another study led by the province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure suggested adding a rail overpass at Bell Road and a new crossing at Beharrell Road while closing crossings at Hargitt and Swanson streets.
The cost of the project was estimated by the report’s authors at $16 million, but a second independent quote pegged the price tag at $29 million.
The report said the project would reduce the amount of time roads are blocked by trains waiting to cross the Fraser River. The changes are needed to allow trains waiting to cross the bridge to adhere with rules that say such crossings can only be blocked for five minutes at a time.
City staff said in its report that such an improvement wouldn’t do much for the local road network, noting that the project would mostly benefit rail network efficiencies.