Port authority requests $49.6 million from Pitt Meadows for Harris Road underpass

During this week’s council meeting, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority requested the city of Pitt Meadows pay $49.6 million for the Harris Road underpass project to go ahead.

When the project was announced in 2018, the initial cost was estimated to be $63.3 million. However, due to inflation, material costs and seismic requirements, the cost has since tripled, now reaching $195 million.

The National Building Code of Canada requires that the project be 25 per cent more earthquake resistant than originally planned.

Read: Pitt Meadows residents should expect 7.26 per cent tax increase for 2023

Expanding active transportation facilities, building noise walls and adding a pump station design also resulted in additional costs to the project.

If the project goes ahead, residents of Pitt Meadows could see an estimated tax increase of 12 per cent or $300 per single-family household over the next 30 years.

“Even though Pitt Meadows is ranked among the lowest for single-family home taxes in the Metro Vancouver region, adding an additional tax burden will be difficult for residents, especially amid rising cost of living and interest rates,” said Mark Roberts, the city’s chief administrative officer.

The original project plan stated that no financial costs would be incurred by the city.

The port authority examined all options to avoid saddling Pitt Meadows with the costs, according to Devan Finch, program director for the port authority.

A final decision is requested by mid-April as delaying the project could mean a monthly increase of $1 million to the project.

Expressing disappointment in the development, Nicole MacDonald, Mayor of Pitt Meadows, said that becoming a funding partner would be: “a departure from council’s key principles and previous project agreements.”

“However, the Harris Road underpass remains a critical piece of infrastructure that will improve livability, business viability as well as enhance the public safety of our residents. Without the underpass, the Harris Road at-grade crossing will remain one of the top three percent riskiest rail crossings in the country,” said Mayor MacDonald.

If the project does not go forward, the city will neither receive noise mitigation nor the relocation of heritage buildings.

Additionally, CP will have right of way to build additional tracks, resulting in increased train traffic and delays at the Harris Road crossing

It is estimated that by 2030, traffic delays per 24 hours will increase by 6 to 7.5 hours on Harris Road.

If the project is approved after public engagement, construction could begin in 2024 with anticipated completion by 2027.

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