CPE Spokesman Brian Gunn encouraged to see talks between CN and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure regarding bridge safety in the Burrard Inlet, in light of future increased tanker traffic. Read the article here:
CN wants to know more about upcoming safety report on Burrard Inlet bridges
Additional interest has surfaced in a planned provincial report that will determine how well vital bridges crossing Burrard Inlet would be able to withstand being hit by big ships.
The interest comes from Canadian National, which owns the railway bridge at the Second Narrows under which 40,000 oil tankers will pass over the 50-year lifetime of the recently approved Kinder Morgan pipeline project.
The province is studying effects from ships on the Lions Gate and Ironworkers Memorial bridges, but not the privately owned railway crossing.
However, when word of the provincial study reached Sandro Scola, senior manager of bridges and structures for CN, he wanted to know more.
“A member of CN’s engineering team has been in contact with the province to discuss the issue,” said CN spokeswoman Kate Fenske in an email.
The motor vehicle bridges are being examined under a federal law called the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code S6-14, which analyzes collisions and ways to mitigate them. The study was ordered by Dirk Nyland, chief engineer at the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“The S6-14 code gives engineers guidelines to know what impact forces the foundations can withstand. It’s very important,” said Brian Gunn, spokesman for a public-interest group called the Concerned Professional Engineers of B.C.
The Lions Gate and Ironworkers Memorial are critical pieces of Metro Vancouver infrastructure, connecting people, goods and services to the North Shore. About 182,000 trips are made every day.
Gunn said the S6-14 code does not apply to the railway bridge, even though the 120-metre wide channel forms the narrowest gap among the three bridges which ships must pass by.
Coal, wood and grain shipments to the North Shore are dependent on the railway bridge, as well as the source of employment for a large number of people. Gunn said CN is looking to find out information which would be applicable to its own crossing.
“CN’s letter tells me that the company is interested in the seven-fold increase in tanker traffic. There are times in the month when there will be four daily tanker transits instead of two,” he said.
“The whole thing needs to be carefully looked at. That means they’re looking at the traffic and collisions and what forces those collisions would bring to the bridge piers,” he said.
It is not the first time the province has looked at the safety of motor-vehicle bridges over Burrard Inlet.
Faced with increases in ships’ sizes and additional numbers of vessels, the south pier of the Lions Gate was strengthened with tonnes of reinforced concrete about 20 years ago so it would be better able to withstand being hit by a wayward ship.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Transportation said a “discussion” has been held with CN to advise them of the province’s study.
“Given the changes to vessel usage in Burrard Inlet over time and the potential changes in the future, the ministry initiated a proactive review of vessel impact protection in 2015. The ministry’s study does not include a risk assessment of the CN bridge, but we will share our findings with them,” said the spokesman in an email.
“There are significant safety measures in place for the operation of vessels under these bridges. The bridges are very safe,” he said. “The review will be completed in 2017 and form the basis for action going forward.”