Plans rolling along for E&N Rail Trail; first phase to open in 2014

OCTOBER 16, 2013 09:34 PM
Map of E&N Rail Trail
The E&N Rail Trail is still chugging along even if the E&N passenger train isn’t.
Capital Regional District parks committee members are recommending McElhaney Consulting Services Ltd. be awarded a $289,925 contract for engineering consulting on phase two of the trail development.
The project includes construction of a trail 3.5 metres to 4 metres wide from Island Highway at Four Mile bridge to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail at the intersection of Burnside Road West and Island Highway, and for upgrades to the road, rail and trail crossing at Esquimalt Road.
A total of $4.76 million has been budgeted for trail construction and $1.2 million for the Esquimalt Road crossing upgrade, including $350,000 for design and engineering. Funding will come through the federal gas-tax program.
The provincial government, through Bike B.C. funding, has also contributed $765,000 for road-crossing improvements.
If the contract is awarded in November, construction would begin in early 2014 and be completed by March 2015. Completion of phases one and two, in combination with some bike lanes and sidewalks, will provide a new bike and pedestrian route between Victoria and Langford.
CRD parks manager of planning and conservation services Jeff Ward said work on the rail trail is continuing with the understanding that the Island Corridor Foundation, which owns the line, is continuing to work on getting passenger service restarted.
Regardless, he said, the lease for the rail trail is secure and the opening of phase one of the trail is planned for early 2014.
CRD parks committee member Ben Isitt, a Victoria councillor, said the right of way and the rail operations should be viewed as separate entities.
“Let’s say the ICF should not succeed [in restoring passenger service], there is still a key piece of infrastructure that, whether with the current rails on it or upgraded rails in the future, I think is an essential part of the Island transportation system,” Isitt said.
“So we shouldn’t view the ICF drive as the only option.”
Passenger rail service on the Island E&N line was suspended in 2011 due to unsafe track conditions. The Island Corridor Foundation has found more than $18 million in regional, provincial and federal funding to fix the track, but it is contingent on signing a new service deal with Via to restore the service.
The foundation has proposed a deal to run trains from the mid-Island to Victoria each day, and limit Via’s annual losses, but says Via is not responding to its proposal.
Via has said it won’t restart Island train service if a new deal costs additional money.
© Copyright 2013

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *