A few dollars more for E&N rail repairs

Corridor foundation needs $5.4M for bridges, trestles

With the $15 million in place for repairing rail ties and relaunching a train service, attention is now being turned to the 48 bridges and trestles along the E&N rail route between Victoria and Courtenay.

Island Corridor Foundation (ICF), needs another $5.4 million for the necessary upgrades to bridges and trestles to make the rail line usable for at least 10 years, according to an engineering analysis released this week.

ICF chief operating officer Graham Bruce admits he has his work cut out for him, but said is confident that they will be able to find the money.

“(We’re) not going to let this go,” Bruce said. “We’ll find (the money) somehow, somewhere, through a number of avenues.”

To raise the initial $5.4 million, Bruce plans to approach a number of organizations including the Island Coastal Economic Trust. Beyond that, he was hesitant to give other names while the application process is still underway.

Work needed on bridges and trestles involves new decking and some structural work.

Near Goldstream park, the iconic Niagara Canyon bridge and Arbutus Canyon bridge, both from 1912, require hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. This is still a better outcome then anyone predicted.

“All of it is manageable and when you look at those structures and the age of them, they’re in very good shape compared to what we were anticipating,” Bruce said.

Rail tie replacement, a separate project, is anticipated to start in October 2012, after finalizing government funding and going through a tender process.

Associated Engineering, a consultant located in Langford, prepared the analysis over five months on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation and the ICF. Money for the report came from the province, which approved an early $500,000 of its $7.5 million commitment for repairing the E&N tracks.

The report also outlines the money needed for the next 20 and 30 years. In total maintenance and repair will cost $34 million over 30 years.

Once the rail system is up and running, however, money will come from passenger and freight users for ongoing upkeep.

Bruce said they want to do the job right and not just patch the railway up. By ensuring upgrades will keep the system going for at least 10 years, the hope is to be able attract more businesses and industry to utilize the rail system, knowing that it is reliable.

“This wasn’t just a fly-off and get it running, and then the next thing you know you’re shut down because of this, that or the other,” Bruce said. “The whole plan was built on getting passenger service back and running for a minimum of 10 years.”

For more about the Island Corridor Foundation, see www.islandrail.ca.

For the bridge and trestle assessment, see www.th.gov.bc.ca/publications/reports_and_studies/EandN-Bridge-Assessment-Report.









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