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New rail overpasses not enough, Township report warns

A freighter unloads cargo at Deltaport in South Delta on Saturday, April 12. A new plan to expand the port even more will increase train traffic through Langley to higher-than-forecast levels, according to a Township assessment. - Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
A freighter unloads cargo at Deltaport in South Delta on Saturday, April 12. A new plan to expand the port even more will increase train traffic through Langley to higher-than-forecast levels, according to a Township assessment.
— image credit: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

A plan to expand the Deltaport container cargo terminal in Ladner will send more trains through Langley than the nearly-completed new overpasses were designed to handle, a report to Township council warns.

The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) project proposed by Port Metro Vancouver would build a new three-berth container terminal that would double capacity at the South Delta deepwater port.

Once complete, the expanded facility would ship the equivalent of 4.8 million 20-foot-long containers through the Township and Langley City every year, more than double the current annual figure of 1.8 million.

That is substantially more than the new overpasses in the Langley area were built to accommodate, warns a report by Township transportation engineering manager Paul Cordeiro.

The construction of the new overpasses, part of the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor project, was to handle an planned increase of rail traffic from 1.8 million to 3 million by 2021 as a result of adding a third container ship berth at the Deltaport terminal.

The overpasses, are “not intended to mitigate the full impact of RBT2” the Cordeiro report warns.

The report says despite a year of lobbying by Township staff and other municipalities along the rail corridor, the impact of the expanded rail traffic is not being studied by Port Metro Vancouver or the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the body with the authority to order mitigation measures.

The two agencies “have failed to recognize the linkage between the RBT2 Project, which expands container capacity and the resulting increased rail traffic which has significant socio-economic impacts on the local community,” the Cordeiro report says.

As recommended by the Cordeiro report, council voted on April 7 to send a letter to the port, assessment agency and federal minister of transport to express “concern about the lack of recognition or examination of the significant socioeconomic impact of the RBT2 project and increased container rail traffic through Langley.”

The letter calls for a “detailed analysis” of the effect that more than doubling rail traffic will have on vehicle traffic, road safety at rail crossings, “increased train noise, vibration and pollutants” as well as the need for “whistle cessation” along the rail corridor.

Similar concerns were raised by the City of Langley in a Nov. 28 report by the acting director of engineering, parks and environment, which said the port should “retain qualified experts to undertake a full analysis of the proposed RBT2 Project in relation to the anticipated road and rail impacts on the corridor in and around the City of Langley and to identify appropriate measures to effectively address and mitigate such impacts.”

Richmond, Surrey and Delta have also called for an impact study before the RBT2 expansion is approved.

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