A truck crosses the rail line on Vye Road at the site of a promised overpass that is now set to be built. File photo

Abbotsford on hook for half of $5 million increase in Vye Road project costs

McConnell Road connection a no-go after negotiations with rail companies fail

Improvements to Vye Road and Highway 11 near the Huntingdon border crossing won’t include a major component of the original plan announced in 2013 by the City of Abbotsford, the Province of B.C. and the federal government.

The new project, however, will cost $5 million more than anticipated in 2013, with Abbotsford on the hook for half that additional cost.

The $30 million project announced last week included an overpass on Vye Road, the widening of 1.8 kilometres of Sumas Way/Highway 11 to the border, a traffic signal at the highway’s junction with Fourth Avenue, a round-about at Vye and Riverside roads, and an upgraded intersection at Vye and Sumas Way.

What the project doesn’t include is a second rail crossing at McConnell Road.

That crossing had been one of the first things mentioned in a Government of Canada press release sent out in 2013 when the project was officially announced. A preliminary design for the project predicted that the crossing would reduce traffic on Sumas Way by allowing one-fifth of all traffic bound for the road’s commercial area to use Riverside Road to access the area.

But that crossing was also at the root of the project’s four-year delay, as the city negotiated with the rail companies and the province to come to an agreement.

A McConnell Road deal, though, was never reached, and the improvements are now set to take place without the McConnell Road junction.

A statement issued by a city spokesperson said, “The City did not receive funding support from Southern Railway or CP Rail and the City will reassess in the future regarding this location and any other crossings along the corridor.”

Meanwhile, the cost of the project is $5 million above the $25 million price tag announced in 2013.

Mayor Henry Braun says the increasing price tag is largely due to rising costs – and more precise estimates – since the project was first planned-for in 2011. Braun said the city had hoped to get the railroads to agree to a second crossing at McConnell, but that was a hard sell. With no prospective agreement in place, he said the city had to act or risk losing the money committed by the federal government.

The original cost was to be shared equally, with the city, province and feds all anteing up $8.33 million.

The new project has $30 million in funding approved, but the federal government won’t be paying any more. That leaves the city and province to split the extra $5 million. The News has asked for the reason for the cost increase.

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