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Prince Rupert, B.C. port improvement designs being prepared

Grant Cameron
Prince Rupert, B.C. port improvement designs being prepared

Designs are being prepared and work is slated to get underway soon on three separate projects at the Port of Prince Rupert, B.C., that are aimed at enhancing and making the northern gateway more efficient.

More than $300 million worth of work will take place at the sprawling anchorage over the next few years to get the harbour, already among the fastest growing ports in North America, ready for more growth.

The projects are being funded with $153.7 million from the federal government via the National Trade Corridors Fund. The rest will come from the port, CN Rail and Metlakatla Development Corporation (MDC).

“We are pleased to see over $150 million of federal investment committed to the Prince Rupert gateway,” said port president and CEO Shaun Stevenson. “We see it as indicative of the growing role that the Port of Prince Rupert plays in adding value to Canadian supply chains and growing Canada’s trade with the world.

“These investments will enable the development of gateway infrastructure that will support ongoing growth in capacity and resiliency of the gateway.”

The port and CN are partnering on a $122-million project to build a new double-track bridge across the Zanardi Rapids, rehabilitate an existing single-track bridge, and expand a causeway between the bridge and Ridley Island. The project will reduce operational conflicts and increase rail capacity to the port.

Nearly $100 million will also be spent on expanding an existing road, rail infrastructure and utility corridor to enable train access – a venture known as the Ridley Island Export Logistics Platform project.

Alexandre Boulé, senior advisor, media relations at CN, says rail activity at Prince Rupert is presently supported by a single track that splits from the mainline. The double-track bridge will have two, long rail leads connecting the mainline with Ridley Island.

“The project will increase CN’s capacity on the approach into Prince Rupert from one track to three tracks, creating a platform for continued traffic growth and planned terminal development,” says Boulé.

Two of the three tracks will connect directly onto Ridley Island which will, in turn, ease capacity from an existing mainline bridge servicing Fairview and Westview terminals further north on Kaien Island.

Engineers are currently working on the detailed design, with construction planned to start in the second quarter of next year, says Boulé.

“In-water works for the new bridge construction will be challenging, as we will have tight daily construction windows within the natural tidal cycle,” he says. “However, works will mostly be conducted in parallel to the existing operation, which at CN is something we’re very practiced in doing across our network safely and efficiently.

“When it comes time for rail connections into the existing infrastructure it will be done through a series of carefully planned phases to protect the operation.”

Another $89 million is slated for the Metlakatla Import Logistics Park project, a 25-hectare site on South Kaien Island that will enable transload and warehouse operations to provide increased flexibility and value-added capabilities. The park will be fully integrated into DP World’s Fairview Container Terminal.

Shaun Thomas, communications manager for Metlakatla First Nation, says he expects site prep work on the park grounds to begin this winter and proceed at a steady pace over the next two years. MDC is the economic arm of the Metlakatla First Nation

MDC received $43.3 million in federal funding for the project. The funds will be used to develop the site, including necessary groundwork such as site clearing, leveling, and building infrastructure like road access and other works.

“Once the site is cleared and the ground works have been complete, the Metlakatla Development Corporation will work with our partners and potential tenants to determine their needs for the site,” says Thomas. “The project will be an import and export logistics facility to support trade growth through the Port of Prince Rupert.”

The work is necessary, he says, because the port plans to substantially increase its container business through the Fairview Terminal and future expansion, but to accommodate that growth there is a need for more logistical support and capacity in the Prince Rupert area.

“One of the needed areas is a logistics park that will increase the efficiency and volumes of container throughput, both import and export,” says Thomas. “The Metlakatla Import and Export Logistic Park will create that increased efficiency and capacity. As well, due to the new connector road currently being built, new logistics facilities will negate the need for large trucks to drive through the City of Prince Rupert.”

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