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Improvements not tied to expansion

Proposed road and rail projects are to increase efficiency at Deltaport, not for Terminal 2

Deltaport road and rail projects planned or now underway are aimed at improving current container movement, not in anticipation of Terminal 2 being approved.

That's what Port Metro Vancouver officials wanted to point out during an open house last week in South Delta for the planned Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project.

Part of the port authority's overall Container Capacity Improvement Program, the road and rail project has several key elements, including an overpass on the existing Roberts Bank causeway to separate road and rail traffic, the reconfiguration of rail track, additional container handling equipment within the existing Deltaport terminal and road improvements on Deltaport Way. The $280 million project also involves additional rail track on farmland referred to as the Option Lands.

The Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project would increase the container capacity at Deltaport by 600,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit containers) to 2.4 million TEUs.

Construction is to begin in the summer of 2012 with a late 2014 completion.

Already underway is the separate $300 million Roberts Bank Rail Corridor Program, which includes several road and overpass projects in Delta, Surrey and Langley. It also has a 2014 completion date.

Meanwhile, the $1.2 billion South Fraser Perimeter Road is well underway with completion set at the end of 2013.

The major element of the Container Capacity Improvement Program is an entirely new three-berth terminal at Roberts Bank, a proposed project known as Terminal 2 (T2). It would double container capacity by more than two million TEUs.

However, when asked at the open house at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn if the projects are being undertaken for T2 and the presumption it will get approval, port officials said there's some confusion and misunderstanding by the public about what's happening.

"This has nothing to do with T2, this is a project that's all about getting capacity from the existing infrastructure at Deltaport. The beauty of this project is that it takes place entirely within existing terminals, road and rail rights of way," said Cliff Stewart, Port Metro Vancouver's director of infrastructure development.

"I call it the ultimate recycling project. It's about getting more out of the existing capacity," he said.

Sheri Plewes, vicepresident of infrastructure delivery, said T2 is a project within the container improvement initiative, but that's to come later.

Stewart agreed, noting, "One of the things we believe is it's really about sustainability and doing more with the same. We were out in June during preconsultation on Terminal 2 and people were telling us, 'We really want you to do more with what you have before you try to build more.' That wasn't the genesis of this project but it certainly resonates with it."

Stewart noted should T2 get approval, the road and rail projects now underway would certainly help serve that new capacity, although additional projects would also be required.

Plewes said it's difficult at this point to predict what those future projects would involve and that an evaluation would obviously be required.

Stewart agreed, adding, "When this project is completed, Deltaport Way would still be a two-lane road. If T2 comes along, will it still be a two-lane road? Right now, we don't know the answer to that."

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