REACTION to the news that the Frank St. level crossing will be shut down this afternoon is already coming in, with one area businessman calling the move “ridiculous” and questioning what this will mean for the booming corridor of Keith Ave.
CN work crews are to close down the Frank St. level rail crossing this afternoon following a June 4 incident in which a transport truck was nearly struck by a train.
The closure order was issued by Transport Canada, said statements released by the City of Terrace and CN this morning.
“This crossing was first identified as a safety concern in September 1994. Since then, CN has upgraded the crossing protection, including the installation of a warning system in 1996 and a further upgrade to a constant warning system,” says the CN statement.
“However, Transport Canada continues to have concerns and has recommended that further steps need to be taken by the City of Terrace to improve the safety around the Frank St. crossing such as signs limiting the length of trucks at the crossing and enhanced policing,” the statement continues.
“As the local road authority, the City of Terrace must implement these measures to address Transport Canada’s safety concerns.”
City crews did put down new asphalt at the location last year, making the roadway across the tracks much smoother.
The closure comes at a time when there is both increasing rail traffic and increasing commercial traffic along Keith Ave. which feeds into Frank St.
Steve Smyth of Peterbilt Pacific, a truck service shop on Keith Ave., said nearly half of the shop’s business uses that level crossing.
“We’ve been trying to establish Keith as an industrial and a growth area in town, and it certainly seems to be booming at the moment. Now they’ve cut off half of our access,” he said. “Our customers don’t drive minivans, they drive 85-foot long vehicles, and they need consistent and reliable access to these businesses.”
The closure will also leave just two routes in central Terrace connecting the south side of Terrace with the north side – the Kenney St. level crossing and the Sande Overpass, which Smyth says will now be overrun with transport trucks.
“We can’t get across the Kenney St. crossing half the time because there’s two trains parked on it, and now we’re going to have a big bottleneck at the bottom of the overpass,” he said.
And he said there was no consultation about how this would affect businesses who rely on that crossing.
“This was dropped in our lap by a city employee about half an hour ago. And he was told that they were ordered to close it because of an incident… well there’s probably been an incident a month on the Kenney St. crossing,” he said. “To close one crossing because of one incident is ridiculous when many incidents have occurred at the Kenney level crossing.”
This move is the opposite of what businesses and landowners have been lobbying for.
“We’ve been trying to establish a reliable second crossing for this area for the last five or six years,” he said. “The business and landowners down here have been screaming out for reliable access… We told [CN] they needed to upgrade that crossing or establish it as a viable crossing for the last five or six years and now we have nothing?”