Proposed Harris Road underpass in Pitt Meadows reaches milestone with partnering agreement
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, City of Pitt Meadows and CP set to sign partnering agreement to support ongoing collaboration and investment for designing the project
Vancouver B.C.: The proposed Harris Road underpass has reached an important milestone, as the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and key partners announce the approval of a project partnering agreement. The partnering agreement with the City of Pitt Meadows and Canadian Pacific (CP) is a critical step in advancing safety and livability improvements at one of the Lower Mainland’s busiest rail crossings.
For several years, the port authority, CP, and the City of Pitt Meadows have been collaborating to advance the Pitt Meadows Road and Rail Improvements Project, which is a port authority-led initiative to remove bottlenecks for both trade growth and cargo carriers, as well as for the local community and commuters.
Harris Road underpass partnering agreement
The project partnering agreement is the next step to advancing technical and detailed design work for the project since the non-binding Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2019.
The agreement documents key priorities and commitments between the three parties and will help support ongoing collaboration and investment for designing the Harris Road underpass and engaging with the community.
Residents and elected officials in Pitt Meadows have discussed the Harris Road rail crossing since the early 1970s. Now, through this agreement, the City of Pitt Meadows and local community will have the opportunity to meaningfully shape the future of Harris Road, and without capital costs.
The agreement outlines:
- Roles, commitments, and priorities for partners
- Budget and schedule for the Harris Road underpass
- Active transportation and public space considerations
- Double the originally-proposed investment in noise and vibration mitigation, in response to community input
- High-level considerations for construction planning
- Ownership and maintenance obligations
Partner roles and commitments
- Port authority: partially funding the project; leading technical studies; collaborating on project design; leading community engagement and Indigenous consultation; and overseeing future project construction pending final approval
- CP: partially funding the project and leading rail upgrades within their right-of-way, including an extension of the existing lead track to the Vancouver Intermodal Facility, east across Harris Road, and 10,000 feet of new siding track north of the existing mainline tracks between Harris Road and Kennedy Road
- City of Pitt Meadows: formalizes the municipality’s role in project design; preserves heritage buildings and supports long-term vision for future heritage site; ensures underpass design is developed in line with city standards and specifications; and ensures considerations for construction planning
Noise and vibration mitigation that goes beyond Health Canada guidelines
Pitt Meadows has a long community history of trade and rail activity. As part of that, project partners recognize that there are some community concerns about existing rail activity, including challenges with noise and vibration, prior to contemplation of this project.
The Pitt Meadows Road and Rail Improvements Project is an opportunity to mitigate some of these concerns, including noise and vibration related to the proposed changes to infrastructure, and captured as one key priority in the partnering agreement.
In response to input from the Pitt Meadows community, investment in noise and vibration mitigation has been doubled to $3 million from what was presented to the public in spring 2021, which already exceeded Health Canada guidelines. This doubled investment would deliver:
- A 1,229 metres of noise walls when the warranted scope is 245 metres
- Reduced noise for a total of 98 properties along the rail corridor
- Benefits to many more residents by lengthening the noise walls
In accordance with the funding agreement with the port authority, CP will contribute partial funding towards the noise and vibration scope and is committed to complying with all applicable laws and terms of the agreement.
Project funding and the National Trade Corridors Fund
In addition to funding from the port authority and CP, this project is also funded by the Government of Canada through the National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF).
The City of Pitt Meadows is not funding any capital costs associated with the project.
With a partnering agreement in place, the port authority can engage a design-build contractor to develop the design of the Harris Road underpass, with opportunities for community input as part of the design progression.
“On behalf of the port authority, I would like to thank CP and City of Pitt Meadows staff and elected officials for their valuable support to this critical infrastructure project,” said Cliff Stewart, vice-president of infrastructure with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. “Our partnership is vital to ensuring the road and rail project benefits all parties and the first way we do this is by documenting our collective commitments and priorities. The partnership agreement for the Harris Road underpass is an important milestone to advance the project to the next stage—and ultimately benefit the community of Pitt Meadows, CP, and the rest of Canada through the trade of commodities and everyday goods that pass through our Greater Vancouver gateway.”
“This is an important moment in history for our community,” says Mayor Bill Dingwall. “The Harris Road underpass will improve public safety and response times for police, fire and ambulance services which will translate into saving of lives. Council, staff and the community have achieved more noise and vibration mitigation than initially offered with the potential to increase mitigation further if additional project funding is secured. As well, the community will gain an underpass that will relieve traffic congestion, make commuting easier and more reliable—with no design or structural construction costs to the city.”
“CP is pleased that the three parties were able to come to an agreement which allows us to move forward to the next phase of design and construction planning,” said Jeff Edwards, CP Assistant Vice-President Market Strategy and Demand Management. “The Harris Road underpass and associated rail infrastructure will create efficiencies for CP, while improving the conditions for the community as volumes to the Port of Vancouver continue to grow.”
About the Pitt Meadows Road and Rail Improvements Project
The Pitt Meadows Road and Rail Improvements Project is one of several infrastructure projects to separate roadways and rail lines across the Lower Mainland, to benefit both Canada’s trade and local communities.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority leads these projects in support of the Greater Vancouver Gateway 2030 strategy.
For more information and to sign up for the project newsletter, visit portvancouver.com/pittmeadowsroadandrail.
About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and the Port of Vancouver
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the federal agency responsible for the shared stewardship of the Port of Vancouver. Like all Canada Port Authorities, we are accountable to the federal minister of transport, and operate pursuant to the Canada Marine Act with a mandate to enable Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver, while protecting the environment and considering local communities. The port authority is structured as a non-share corporation, is financially self-sufficient and does not rely on tax dollars for operations. Our revenues come from port terminals and tenants who lease port lands, and from port users who pay various fees such as harbour dues. Profits are reinvested in port infrastructure. The port authority has control over the use of port land and water, which includes more than 16,000 hectares of water, over 1,500 hectares of land, and approximately 350 kilometres of shoreline. Located on the southwest coast of British Columbia in Canada, the Port of Vancouver extends from Roberts Bank and the Fraser River up to and including Burrard Inlet, bordering 16 municipalities and intersecting the traditional territories and treaty lands of several Coast Salish First Nations. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo. Enabling the trade of approximately $240 billion in goods with more than 170 countries, port activities sustain 115,300 jobs, $7 billion in wages, and $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada.
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