Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Port of Vancouver USA Launching Rail Expansion Project

Construction is scheduled to begin Dec. 22 on an $11.28 million rail expansion project that aims to eliminate a transportation chokepoint at the Port of Vancouver USA by separating train and vehicle traffic.

The Gateway Avenue cargo overpass would be on the east side of the port’s Terminal 5 and have six train tracks running beneath it. The overpass is the latest component of the port’s $150 million, 21-phase West Vancouver Freight Access project, which has been built in phases since its 2007 launch.

The freight access project is planned to improve the ability to move freight not only through the port but also along the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad mainlines. Portions of the WVFA project include construction of a new dual carrier rail access into the port, enhancement of the port’s internal rail system, relocation of port facilities to accommodate track realignment and roadway improvements.

Among the elements of the project that have already been completed are, a $14 million Terminal 5 loop track, which was completed in June 2010; and $16 million in rail improvements completed in 2008.
Construction of the overpass, which should be finished by May 2013, is funded primarily by an $8.8 million federal grant, with the port picking up the remaining $2.48 million.

Port officials say the WVFA project is about 40 percent complete and should be finished by 2017. It’s expected to help the port generate up to 2,000 new, permanent jobs over the next five to 10 years as it increases rail capacity and current tenants expand their operations.

The port is also in negotiations to lease 218 acres of Terminal 5 land to Australia-based mining company BHP Billiton for the purpose of exporting potash to Asian countries. If an agreement can be arrived at, the new tenant could bring even more jobs to the port.