A rendering of the off-dock terminal along the Ridley Island access road that would serve as the point for loading trucks and storing containers.

A rendering of the off-dock terminal along the Ridley Island access road that would serve as the point for loading trucks and storing containers.

Port turning to rail to remove in-town trucking

The Prince Rupert Port Authority is working on a new plan to get container trucks off the streets of downtown Prince Rupert.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority is working on a new plan to get container trucks off the streets of downtown Prince Rupert, and they may not necessarily involve a road connecting Fairview Terminal to Ridley Island.

“We had proposed a road at one point, but now instead of doing a road we would be doing a rail shuttle to connect those two. It achieves the same purpose – instead of a truck coming to the gate at Fairview, the truck would come to a gate at Ridley and the containers would be shuttled by rail to the terminal,” Prince Rupert Port Authority director of public affairs Ken Veldman told Port Edward council on March 10.

“It was pushed back for a couple of reasons. One, it is extremely costly building a road in beside the rail along that route, but secondly it is a much more efficient solution to keep it all dedicated to rail coming into that terminal.”

The rail line would go to what Veldman called an “off-dock terminal” that could house containers waiting to be loaded onto a ship or empty containers waiting to be stuffed prior to be taken to Fairview by rail. However, the timeline is out of the hands of the port authority at the moment.

“As the land along the Ridley access road, which is provincial crown land, becomes available and we can begin operations there, that is when it starts to come together … we need to get that land on the market to make that happen, but all of the pieces are there for a pretty elegant solution,” said Veldman.

“All we’re looking to do is have the province put it on the market. Our only concern is that it comes within our planning regime so that its development doesn’t start to compromise the rest of the flow of traffic. It’s not a market play, we don’t want to own it or operate it, we want other people to have the ability to develop operations. From the discussions we have had in the market, we are confident there is a lot of interest in the market to do that.”

Mayor Dave MacDonald said truck traffic through Prince Rupert is a concern to many, but Veldman said removing the trucks from Second Avenue West is simply a precautionary step.

“There hasn’t been an issue and we all have faith in that fleet of trucks, but the odds and numbers is what we are trying to eliminate,” he said, adding it will benefit the drivers as well.

“This creates a virtual terminal some kilometres away where the rail connection makes it really smooth and takes the truck congestion, like you see in Vancouver, and moves it out to an area where it can be handled much better.”