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Port of Vancouver moves to expand rail links

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Dry Bulk,

Construction of a new four-lane overpass crossing the rail lines at Holdom Avenue in Burnaby has been set to begin in late 2024. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority will deliver the Holdom Overpass project in partnership with the City of Burnaby, CN, and the Government of Canada.

The overpass will extend Holdom Avenue south over the rail corridor and Still Creek, connecting it with Douglas Road. Once complete, there will be an increase in rail capacity for Port of Vancouver terminals, supporting the reliable movement of goods through the region, and improving traffic flow and safety for the Burnaby community.

The rail corridor through Burnaby is the only rail connection to transport goods and commodities to and from port terminals located in North Vancouver, a vital link in the national supply chain that connects Canadian products like grain and fertilizer to global markets. The rail corridor moves more than 40 million t of export cargo, accounting for more than 40% of the port’s total international exports in 2023.

The City of Burnaby identified the Holdom Overpass as an important solution to provide better access and improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians, commuters, and first responders as part of its transportation plans. The Holdom Overpass active transportation facilities will improve connections to the Holdom Skytrain station, which is a main hub for cyclists and pedestrians, making travel from the Skytrain station to areas south of the rail tracks — such as the Central Valley Greenway — safer, faster, and more reliable.

Canada’s trade through the region has been growing, and the project was designed to mitigate the impacts of trade on those who live, work, and commute in Burnaby. It will provide significant community benefits, including improved safety and traffic flows, reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from less idling traffic at the existing crossing, better community access by creating more reliable travel times, and better emergency response options.

The project will add to the rail improvements completed by CN in 2022, which included updates to the Thornton Tunnel to reduce the time between trains travelling through the tunnel and a new rail siding track running from Willingdon Avenue to Piper Avenue.

The port authority has previously completed two phases of public engagement and continuous First Nations consultation, and input from these efforts has helped shape the overpass design. Public space surrounding the overpass will include First Nations cultural recognition, public art, and improved landscaping in the Still Creek and Beecher Creek areas.

The road enhancements are part of the Burnaby Rail Corridor Improvements Project, a series of road and rail improvements to increase transportation efficiency and trade capacity through Port of Vancouver terminals on the North Shore. The Burnaby Rail Corridor Improvements Project is funded by the Government of Canada, through its National Trade Corridors Fund, the port authority, and CN.

Peter Xotta, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, said: “We are pleased to partner with the City of Burnaby, CN, and the Government of Canada to begin construction on the Holdom Overpass in Burnaby. The new overpass will create critical capacity and resiliency in the gateway, ensuring that we can enable Canada’s trade more reliably and efficiently, while also delivering tremendous benefits to the local community in Burnaby.”

Mayor Mike Hurley, City of Burnaby stated: “We are excited to see the Holdom Overpass project moving forward, as it will make Burnaby more connected and accessible for everyone. Whether you are driving, taking transit, walking or biking, everyone will benefit from this infrastructure upgrade that will reduce travel times and improve safety in our community.”

Tracy Robinson, President and Chief Executive Officer, CN said: “CN is proud to be a partner on the Holdom Overpass project. This vital piece of infrastructure will improve safety and accessibility to the citizens of Burnaby, as well as increase efficiency for the Port’s operations including greater rail capacity to and from Port terminals in North Vancouver. This project demonstrates our commitment to moving the economy with safer, more efficient transportation solutions benefiting both our customers and the communities we serve. Together with our partners, we are committed to strengthening global supply chains, supporting growth and a sustainable future for Canada’s economy.”

The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport, Canada said: “By investing in projects like the Holdom Overpass, we’re addressing current transportation needs, supporting our supply chains to make life cost less for Canadians, and also building the infrastructure to support vibrant, growing communities that are great places to work, live, and raise a family.”

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