Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts

Track realignment still the goal for White Rock

Mayor says Surrey comments 'don't change what I want to do'.

An apparent step back from BNSF-route relocation by members of Surrey council won’t affect White Rock’s moves in that direction, according to Mayor Wayne Baldwin.

Responding to comments made this week by Surrey Mayor Diane Watts and Coun. Mary Martin that promoting safety of the existing line is Surrey’s main priority, Baldwin said White Rock will continue to present its case for realignment of the route to federal and provincial authorities in the new year.

“Whatever they say doesn’t change what I want to do,” Baldwin said. “Hopefully, we keep everybody onside and start locally.”

An alternative to the waterfront line would still be “the ideal solution” to White Rock’s rail-safety issues, he said, noting it was the City of Surrey that most recently raised the long-discussed “rails to trails” concept as part of the community rail forum it hosted Nov. 26.

“They had a visual depiction of what it might look like,” Baldwin said. “It’s a great vision of what might be.”

But, Baldwin also acknowledged, “the main thing we’re trying to do is get dangerous goods off the waterfront.”

“The most likely trigger points for derailment are in Surrey but because of the length of trains, (a derailment) is going to affect us.”

Ultimately, he said, relocation of the main BNSF route would be an issue between the federal government and BNSF, which owns the property on which the line is located.

“All we can do is do what we can do,” he said, adding that White Rock must ensure its views and wishes about the tracks are heard.

“We’re honour-bound to do that,” he said.

Meanwhile, a U.S.-based advocate for improved passenger-rail service between Portland, Ore. and Vancouver says the feasibility of a Blaine stop should be included in analysis of realignment of the BNSF route in White Rock and South Surrey.

Bruce Agnew, director of Seattle-based Cascadia Center, said he is writing to both the City of White Rock and the City of Surrey to ask that they include the Gateway Semiahmoo (Blaine station) initiative in future discussions of realigning the route.

“We’re asking them to reach out to Whatcom County and the City of Blaine and bring them into the planning process,” Agnew said, adding it could strengthen the case for realigning the route on both sides of the border.

He said he plans to include details of Surrey and White Rock’s discussion of realignment in a future presentation to Whatcom County by Cascadia and Gateway Semiahmoo.

Agnew said that realignment of the route could significantly improve travel time for the 37 miles between Vancouver and the border, which would make it more attractive to BNSF, and increase the likelihood of the Washington State Department of Transportation allowing a passenger stop in Blaine.

“One of the concerns of WashDOT was that a Blaine stop would add a few minutes to the schedule… if the travel time was better between the border and Vancouver, that would make up for it.”

A realigned route would also solve some other problems for BNSF, including the continued potential for slides along the hillside bluffs on the current route.

“Reliability would improve, which is one of the requirements of Amtrak,” Agnew said, adding that some $800 million has been invested in improvements to the rail corridor between Portland and Blaine.

“They say that, with that money, they need to improve the service.”

In that context, Agnew said, it would make sense to spend money realigning the route north of the border.

“Cascadia has long argued that the folks in B.C. need to invest in the corridor,” he said.

Realignment would not impact on Blaine Station plans, or the line south of Peace Arch Park, he added, provided it followed a route parallel to Hwy. 99.

“The route would go through Peace Arch, but instead of curving around to White Rock it would go with the 99,” Agnew said.

He noted that while a 2002 Delcan study of alternative rail alignments (commissioned by Surrey) identified other, more inland routes, these would be much more costly to construct.

Co-ordinating realignment with the Gateway Semiahmoo initiative would benefit business on both sides of the border, Agnew said, as well as providing both  local Canadian and U.S. residents with access to Amtrak passenger service.

“It incorporates a bunch of strategies,” he said. “Our goal would be to have people stay in the area; to take advantage of the tourism aspect.”

In addition to encouraging visitors to stay in the Semiahmoo Bay, it would also open the door to Canadian communities such as White Rock and Crescent Beach, he said, while removal of the rail line from the waterfront would also make possible an extended esplanade from Blaine to Crescent Beach and beyond.

 

 

 

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Semi and BMW collide on South Surrey highway

At least one person to hospital, both vehicles sustained significant damage

White Rock dogs-on-promenade survey shows majority approval

City figures suggest that off-season program could continue

UPDATE: Pedestrian dies after being hit by bus in uptown White Rock

Collision occurred July 3 at North Bluff Road and Johnston Road

Intent of killing at centre of Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allison Beames is anticipated to return with her decision in August

PHOTOS: South Surrey tractor project evokes ‘$1-million smile,’ helps connect neighbours

Retired Surrey firefighter Ron Henze began project for friend’s dad to fill time during pandemic

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Langley vigil demands justice for Ontario animal activist killed protesting slaughterhouse

More than two dozen people gathered at Britco Pork to remember Regan Russell, and fight Bill 156

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

Most Read