An artist’s conception of the proposed underpass at Harris Road. (Contributed)

An artist’s conception of the proposed underpass at Harris Road. (Contributed)

News Views: On track

CP Rail and other agencies want to build an underpass and two overpasses in Pitt Meadows.

CP Rail and other agencies want to build an underpass and two overpasses in Pitt Meadows, to improve the flow of goods.

The underpass would be at the tracks on Harris Road, the main traffic artery in and out of the city.

Overpasses are also proposed for Allen Way and Kennedy Road as part of the Gateway Transportation Collaborative Forum, which includes Transport Canada, B.C. Ministry of Transportation and TransLink.

Applications for approval have already been made for all three projects.

Council is now debating, ahead of a public meeting to be held with CP Rail, the merit of the projects.

For years safety concerns have been raised regarding the trains on Harris Road, not just vehicles crossing the tracks while the arms are down, but about it being blocked in the event of an emergency.

But it was always thought to be too expensive for the city of almost 18,000.

Now CP Rail has come forward with access to $2 billion to improve service across the country.

But what would such improvements mean for residents of Pitt Meadows?

Would longer trains mean more noise – more clanking and more whistles?

Which project would be built first?

Most important, how would residents south of the train tracks get out of the city and to work?

CP has suggested the underpass at Harris Rd. would take two to three years to complete? The mayor has said possibly detours could be built in the area.

How would that affect traffic?

Coun. Bruce Bell has pitched building the Allen Way overpass first, and leaving Harris Road alone.

With an underpass on Harris Road, historic buildings would also have to be moved back.

With the Allen Way overpass, a new road would have to be built, connecting McTavish Road to the Ford Road Detour.

Long-term, that could take traffic off Harris Road.

Coun. Janis Elkerton also doesn’t want to change Harris Road, fearing the constant sight of trains being assembled would ruin the city’s character.

Would it?

Residents may cherish the small-town charm Pitt Meadows maintains. But it is diminished by the frequent train crossings and long waits, especially on busy Saturday afternoons and morning commutes.

MP Dan Ruimy has heard the complaints.

Any with more industrial and residential construction planned for South Bonson, Harris Road is only going to face more congestion.

A four-lane underpass at Harris Road, coupled with the other overpasses, could relieve congestion and improve safety, possibly re-routing truck traffic from the main road.

Access and visibility to the Pitt Meadows Museum and Hoffmann Garage could be improved as part of the construction.

But do residents and council even have a say? Will they have to pay?

CP Rail will have to answer those and other questions, but we think the proposed projects are on the right track.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News