Explainer: What we know so far about the CP Rail yard expansion project in Pitt Meadows

The CP Rail project aims to reduce “bottleneck traffic” on Harris Rd and Kennedy Rd by building an underpass and overpass

Pitt Meadows residents have a lot on their plate as they continue to understand and raise concerns around two Canadian Pacific (CP) road and rail projects in the community. 

Four years ago, CP Rail proposed a rail yard expansion project that would help improve traffic flow in Pitt Meadows. CP also proposed a logistics park project in December 2020 to help store agricultural products and fuel for Metro Vancouver. 

Today we will try to unpack the CP Rail Yard Expansion project which aims to reduce “bottleneck traffic” on Harris Road and Kennedy Road by building an underpass for traffic and an overpass for pedestrians. 

The CP Rail and Road Project is divided into three important components

  1. Additional track on the existing West Coast Express route from Harris Road to Golden Ears Way 
  2. An underpass on Harris Road for road traffic 
  3. A pedestrian overpass at Kennedy Road

It sounds straightforward, right? Except that it’s not. In an exclusive conversation with The Ridge, Heather Anderson, a concerned resident of Pitt Meadows who is leading the Stop CP Rail petition, explained what the overarching impacts of this project are on the community. 

What is the CP Rail yard third-track expansion project? 

The CP Rail Yard Expansion is a federally funded project led by Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. It aims to add a third track to the route from Harris Road to Golden Ears Way. The goal is to improve trade by: “accommodating the growing volume of goods movement through Pitt Meadows,” while also reducing traffic and emergency response delays currently caused by the railway track intersection at Harris Road. 

Finally an underpass! What’s wrong with that?

Having an underpass on Harris Road will substantially reduce traffic congestion but it comes at an expense, according to Anderson. She said that residents will get an underpass only if they agree to the third railway track expansion which is a cause of concern, especially for those living along the proposed transportation corridor.

“The concern is when they start building a train, they let their diesel engines sit idle. The fumes that come out [of these engines] are basically in people’s yards. These engines will sit beside people’s homes and people will be breathing these fumes,” Anderson shared. 

Safety is another prominent concern The only fence that stands between the houses and the tracks is a net fence. “If a train derails, it can wipe down houses,” she said. 

I don’t live near the track so, how does it impact me? 

When railway tracks are built the noises can be as loud as “bomb explosions,” Anderson explained.

Health Canada guidelines require 245 metres of noise walls and noise reduction for 23 properties in the area. The Port Authority claims it will “build a 610-metre noise wall and reduce noise for 25 houses,” a 150 per cent increase than what is required.

But Anderson suggests that we imagine when the construction is happening in the middle of the night, at 2 a.m. and you can hear the loud noise all the way to PoCo (Port Coquitlam). She wants residents to know that this will impact the entire community. 

The City of Pitt Meadows is conducting a noise and vibration study. However, by the end of 2021, they are expected to reach a binding agreement with the port authority. Anderson questioned how the city is going to go ahead with and agree to something without fully studying its impact on residents. 

You can learn more about the Stop CP Rail petition here.

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