WATCH ABOVE: The ninth and final overpass connected to the Roberts Bank Rail project is completed. But that’s only phase one of the project. And as Ted Chernecki reports, not everyone is happy with phase two.
The $51 million dollar Mufford Crescent overpass in the Langley Township officially opened Thursday, marking a major milestone for the controversial Roberts Bank Rail Corridor (RBRC).
This latest overpass signals the end of a $307 million plan to build nine overpasses along the 70-km stretch that connects a major coal terminal at Roberts Bank to the rest of the North American rail network.
The corridor runs through Delta, Surrey, Langley City, Langley Township and Abbotsford. Rail traffic carries international freight through communities in the Lower Mainland.
Politicians from all three levels of government were in Langley to celebrate the completion of eight overpass projects and one railway sliding project.
Officials with Port Metro Vancouver say the latest overpass improves the safety and efficiency of motorist and rail networks. Since the completion of the Mufford Overpass, traffic has been diverted over the rail line onto a new route.
The RBRC project was fraught with controversy ever since it was first announced seven years ago. Residents and environmentalists continue to be concerned over potentially toxic dust from coal trains. However, the Port says it has and will have more safeguards in place.
“For the trains that come from Eastern Canada they’re sprayed at the mine and sprayed again in Kamloops. For the trains that come up from the U.S., Burlington Northern has committed to adding an additional spray station south of the border,” says Cliff Stewart, Port of Vancouver Executive V.P.
With the completion of the rail corridor, plans are already underway for Phase 2 of the RBRC, which will expand the container terminal at Delta Port. The project would add three new shipping berths at the terminal.
An environmental review hearing for phase two of the Roberts Bank expansion begin next week.