Port expansion and increases in rail traffic. Are improvements needed at Renfrew, Rupert and Boundary Road railroad crossings?

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There’s been a substantial increase in rail traffic over the last few years on the CN tracks that pass through the Grandview Cut. We’ve included several photos of this route in the slideshow above.

The increases in freight rail traffic have consequently led to bottlenecks at the street crossings that are at grade. This impacts not only Prior Street, but also the Renfrew, Slocan, Rupert and Boundary Road crossings. While City Hall approved an underpass for Prior Street back in October of 2019, there’s been on no visible work on this undertaking. As for the major arterial streets of Renfrew, Rupert and Boundary, there’s been no progress on underpasses and overpasses. There would of course be technical challenges to overcome at these locations, such as groundwater from nearby Still Creek at Rupert and the limitations created by the elevated Skytrain tracks (with respect to some overpass options). There’s a section of another railway line that’s buried underground in Vancouver Heights before Second Narrows. This illustrates that it’s also possible to run longer stretches of a railway underground. There’s of course the open question whether any funding would be allocated to address the increases in freight traffic going through the railway crossings at Renfrew, Rupert and Boundary Road. Are there any long-term plans by the City? Or do transportation planners consider this to be a non-issue?

Union, Venables Street Railway Crossings. Delays and more delays (CityHallWatch, Aug 2, 2020)
Protest on Prior: Residents demand traffic calming as staff report goes to City Council (CityHallWatch, Oct 1, 2019)

2 thoughts on “Port expansion and increases in rail traffic. Are improvements needed at Renfrew, Rupert and Boundary Road railroad crossings?

  1. All Railways crossings need to be upgraded. Recently Burnaby cost shared two projects. In Vancouver staff does not report to city council on many transportation projects.
    Undergrounding is the best long term solution.

  2. Burnaby “upgraded” the Gilmore crossing, but it’s still a level -crossing with swing-arms and flashing lights.

    The Rupert St crossing is in major need of repair just from the degraded state of the pavement at the crossing

    The Boundary Rd crossing has been repaired and repaved; it was in as bad a shape as Rupert. But in repairing Boundary Rd, they have gone with a quick and dirty blacktop solution that will quickly degrade again, rather than a move effective, easily repairable solution using OMNI rubber crossing system (http://www.omnirail.com/products_rubber_heavy.asp) or a more robust concrete solution. It’s both the movement of vehicles and the heavier rail-car traffic that cause the crossings to break down.

    Obviously, a grade -separated solution is preferred, not just from a vehicle movement / convenience perspective, but also from a safety perspective, for all modes of traffic.

    At the same time, a $50M was spent of the Powell st overpass project (https://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/powell-street-overpass-project.aspx),while at the same time, the CoV made extensive changes along the McGill/Dundas corridor, through into Gastown to make it more difficult to use Dundas/Powell to Carrall St.which had the effect significantly reducing the active capacity of the roadway. That change also forced more traffic onto Hastings, 1St. Ave (and even forced some North Shore traffic to switch from 2nd Narrows to a Lion’s Gate approach!).

    There appears to be a prevalent “we don’t care about cars” attitude from CoV, (psst, level-crossings block buses and pedestrian, too) , but there is also a “we don’t care about non-City originating vehicle traffic”, which is accounts for a significant amount of the North-South traffic on Boundary/Rupert/Renfrew).

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