A plethora of major construction projects have been started or are about to get under way at Pacific Gateway ports in British Columbia and will continue for several years employing thousands of skilled trades workers.
At the Port of Vancouver, work has begun on expansion and reconfiguration of DP World’s Centerm container terminal and related South Shore Access Project. The venture, with a combined budget of $450 million, includes dredging work and constructing new roads and an overpass for Centennial Road.
More than $300 million in work is slated to take place at the Port of Prince Rupert over the next few years on a bridge and causeway project, as well as road and rail infrastructure. The projects are aimed at making the northern gateway more efficient. Designs are being finalized and work is slated to begin this summer.
Meanwhile, at the Port of Nanaimo, $90 million is being spent to expand the existing wharf at Duke Point terminal, build a new warehouse and administration building, and upgrade drainage, sewer, electrical, water and security systems.
Work at the Vancouver port has been ongoing since last summer when heavy equipment was brought in to begin dredging for expansion of the existing Centerm container terminal. The terminal is being reconfigured and enlarged to accommodate an increase in container traffic. A new overpass is also being built and port-area roads along the south shore of Burrard Inlet are being fixed, changed and expanded.
“Dredging work on both the eastern and western expansion of the container terminal was recently completed,” says Gilles Assier, director of container terminal construction at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority who is overseeing the multi-faceted project.
The dredging work had to be done within a window established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada in order to reduce the overall impact on fish habitat.
As a result of the expansion work that is presently under way, the container-handling capacity at Centerm will be increased by two-thirds, to 1.5-million 20-foot equivalent unit containers, or TEUs, from 900,000. Centerm handles about 20 per cent of containerized goods that are shipped through the port.
Interestingly, although the footprint of the Centerm terminal is being expanded by only 15 per cent it will be able to handle 60-per-cent more container traffic because of the new configuration.
Demolition of pier deck has also started and workers have begun pouring foundations for new reefer towers. Meanwhile, modification of rail tracks has also begun.
Other work at the terminal includes expansion at the west and east sides of the existing Centerm terminal, reconfiguration of the container yard, a new container intermodal yard, modernized truck gates, a new terminal operations facility, and two new gantry cranes. The project will take another two years to complete.
Centennial Expansion Partners (CXP) joint venture is doing the work. The partnership consists of three companies – Dragados Canada Inc., Fraser River Pile & Dredge, and Jacob Bros. Construction.
Assier says there are many challenges that make the project interesting, one being that the terminal is operational while construction work is under way, so builders must work closely with the terminal operator.
At the Port of Prince Rupert, work is slated to get under way soon 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 to increase rail capacity to the port.
Another $100 million is being 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.
In-water works for the new bridge construction will be challenging as there will be tight daily construction windows within the natural tidal cycle, a CN Rail spokesman says.
Meanwhile, another $89 million is being spent on development of a 25-hectare site on South Kaien Island for a logistics park that will have warehouse operations. The space will be needed as activity at the gateway is expected to grow to more than 50 million tonnes of trade annually within the next decade.
In Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, Duke Point’s existing wharf is being expanded to 325 metres from 182 metres, the terminal’s storage area is being increased, and an existing crane will be replaced with two 24-metre cranes.
The federal government is chipping in $46 million for the work and the port authority and DP World, a United Arab Emirates-based company that operates Duke Point, is contributing matching funding. The project is expected to create 900 jobs, reduce congestion and provide better connections with the Lower Mainland.
Work on the venture may begin this year with the project being completed by 2023.