Saskatoon city hall to examine railway crossings that could cost $93M

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WATCH: A report, written by Saskatoon city administration, proposes the city council continue to develop plans for three railway crossings – Jan 9, 2021

A Saskatoon city committee is set to receive a report that proposes the administration continue developing plans for three new railway crossings, which could cost $93.3 million.

The report drafted by city administrators lists nine crossings and recommends further planning for where the rail lines intersect Preston Avenue, 11th Street West and Marquis Drive.

It states a road overpass at Preston would cost $26.5 million, in 2017 dollars.

Read more: Railways say Saskatoon’s plans to move train lines won’t work

It also lists road overpasses at Marquis and 11th Street at $23.1 million and $43.7 million, respectively.

Councillor Hilary Gough, a committee member, said she was particularly happy to see the 11th Street crossing in the proposal.

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“It is the number one safety concern when it comes to at-grade rail crossings in the city,” she said, speaking over Zoom.

“A rail delay at that intersection can actually mean basically no access to the Montgomery neighbourhood in or out because there are other rail crossings … and those can actually be blocked at the same time.”

The three intersections were chosen, the report states, because they do not have the same potential impacts as the six others, which range from permanent loss of access to arterial roads, two years of disruption for businesses, significant effects for private property in the area, and concrete walls up to seven metres tall.

The report, written by David LeBoutillier, an engineering manager with the city administration, stated underpasses and overpasses save travel time, improve safety and reduce vehicle operating costs.

The report is the latest effort from city hall to alter how the rail lines, owned by corporate titans Canadian Pacific (CP) and Canadian National (CN) railways, affect the city.

Read more: Saskatoon mayoral candidates weigh in on rail line relocation

Administrators previously examined moving the lines outside of the city, having the companies share the tracks or building overpasses and underpasses, but CP and CN swatted that idea away last year.

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A CP vice-president, in a letter to city council, said sharing a rail corridor is “fundamentally unworkable,” and the report did “not offer serious analysis of the numerous and complex factors that would have to be properly understood to before CP could even consider a proposal.”

A CN representative wrote that sharing rail lines wasn’t feasible and that the company already moved its tracks to the outskirts of the city a few decades ago.

Read more: Collision with train leaves 3 dead in ‘horrific scene’, say Manitoba RCMP

Besides the report being presented to committee on Monday, Gough said there were no timelines or costs connected to the intersections yet.

She stressed the report only recommended adding them to a list with other potential future projects.

“It’s really about saying these are projects we think need to move forward,” she told Global News.

“We’re not sure when and we aren’t sure what dollars will fund them, but we want to start adding them to the list that will be prioritized for design and implementation at a later date.”

Click to play video 'Railways say Saskatoon’s plans to move train lines won’t work' Railways say Saskatoon’s plans to move train lines won’t work
Railways say Saskatoon’s plans to move train lines won’t work – Sep 6, 2020