Vye Road rail overpass remains behind roadblock

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun optimistic project will get back on track

An overpass has long been called for at this rail crossing on Vye Road but the project is currently on hold.

An overpass has long been called for at this rail crossing on Vye Road but the project is currently on hold.

A planned rail overpass on Vye Road is on hold, with the city awaiting an agreement with affected rail companies after plans for the project grew.

The project was announced with $25 million in funding pledged by local, provincial and federal politicians in 2013. The plan included a two-lane overpass crossing both Canadian Pacific and Southern Railway lines, as well as the extension of the NEXUS lane to the U.S. border crossing at Huntingdon.

At the time, MP Ed Fast said the project had “been sitting there for many, many years, waiting for the funding to be in place,” and MLA Mike de Jong called it “long anticipated [and] much talked about.”

Since then, the City of Abbotsford has determined there is a need for a second crossing at McConnell Road, which provides access to the retail shopping area including Costco off Sumas Way.

Both CP and Southern have raised concerns about how the project and its construction may affect their operations, according to Mayor Henry Braun.

“They have their own interests and they didn’t necessarily mesh with what was going on, so we had to revisit that. With the passage of time, things happen; the economy has slowed down a bit for the railways.”

Braun said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the expanded project would go ahead with funding commitments from the province and new federal Liberal government.

He said the city would go back to its original plan of a single crossing, if the two-crossing proposal doesn’t “come to fruition.”

He said he expects to hear a verdict from both Southern and CP in the next two months, but admitted he would have given the same answer two months ago.

“So here we are and I’m none the wiser yet,” he said.

Martin Cej, a CP spokesperson, provided a statement to The News but said he could not respond directly to questions on the matter.

“CP continues to discuss the project with stakeholders and a decision to fund the project will be made in due course,” he said.

According to spokesperson J. Singh Biln, Southern has had a “complementary” working relationship with the City of Abbotsford for many years.

“There has been give and take on part of both parties in terms of any impacts on train operations,” he said.

Biln said Southern previously had safety concerns about the Vye Road crossing being uncontrolled, which were alleviated when CP installed a signal in 2013.

“An overpass will have little benefit to our operations; it will certainly reduce any delays to road traffic caused by our switching operations, so we are supportive of the project,” he said.