Rail crossing upgrades are delayed again, Port Edward chief administrative officer Bob Payette told council members at their regular meeting on March 12.
Payette said he had just received the news from CN Rail earlier in the day on Tuesday.
While engineering and grading to double tracks through the district is now underway, he said creeks, pipes, drainages and physical properties have been creating issues along the coast.
He also said the crossing upgrades are once again on hold due to the discovery of rot under the track.
“We will continue to work hard at getting the physical crossings up to the new regulatory standards over the next couple of months,” he said, adding that they’ve engaged a contractor to work with CN. “We’re doing our best to get it done.”
Councillors expressed dismay at the additional delay and took issue with Payette’s new timeline.
“What do you mean a couple of months?” asked councillor Murray Kristoff. “In December it was going to be mid-January.”
“Yeah, what’s the hold up?” asked councillor James Brown.
“This went from, ‘they ordered the wrong spikes,’ to now we’re a few months away again?” added councillor Dan Franzen.
Payette said that since his meeting with CN had taken place that morning, he didn’t have a lot of technical detail, but “the actual crossings need to be upgraded to a higher regulatory standard.”
“The crossings themselves are pretty old if you go down and look at them, they need to be upgraded for sure,” he said. “The more they look at it, the more the tiles underneath have rot, so that has to be upgraded, including repaving, digging.
“They want to make sure they do it at the best time so that they don’t compromise CN’s operations.”
Payette said that because Port Edward owns the crossings, they are responsible for paying for the upgrades.
However, he said he did not have the proposals yet or the associated costs.
Brown suggested petitioning businesses, such as Vopak, to help pay, before general discussion on whether or not Port Edward should pay at all.
“I think that we should engage a lawyer that knows something about transportation law,” said Mayor Knut Bjorndal, adding that council should discuss a strategy further in camera or at a future meeting.
“We’ve already invested 2 million in the crossings,” he said.
“I’m telling you right now this will not take two months. I’m telling you right now this is a year away,” Kristoff said before Bjorndal tabled the issue.
Payette, who recently tendered his resignation, told the Northern View that the crossing upgrades to end the train whistling was his “second biggest file for four years.”