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Port hosts consultations on expansion projects

Road and rail improvements to increase capacity

Port Metro Vancouver will hold a pair of public open houses this week on major expansion plans for the Deltaport container terminal at Roberts Bank.

Part of the port authority's Container Capacity Improvement Program, public consultations are currently underway regarding the Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project.

The project, according to the port authority, is a series of improvements to the existing three-berth Deltaport terminal.

"As an upgrade to exist-ing infrastructure, Port Metro Vancouver has identified the project as the most efficient and cost-effective way to increase container capacity - by 600,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit containers) to 2.4 million TEUs."

Noting container traffic through Canada's Pacific Gateway is expected to double over the next 10 to 15 years, the port authority is looking at building an entirely new three-berth terminal in Delta, a controversial project known as T2.

Preliminary geotechnical and seismic work started earlier this year with an extensive offshore drilling program around Roberts Bank. A number of other field studies are scheduled to take place as well.

Deltaport is the largest container terminal in Canada with a current capacity of 1.8 million TEUs.

Current road and rail constraints limit the capacity of Deltaport to meet forecast demand for additional container movements, according to the port authority.

The road and rail project has several key elements, including an overpass on the existing Roberts Bank causeway that will separate road and rail traffic, reconfiguration of rail track, additional container handling equipment within the existing Deltaport terminal and road improvements on Deltaport Way.

The project also involves additional rail track within the existing railway corridor and a portion of what's known as the Option Lands.

The Options Lands are properties along the Deltaport Way corridor that had previously been expropriated by the province, but later sold back to local farmers, subject to options to purchase to create a new rail right-of-way. The options were negotiated in anticipation of future expansion of railway operations and extend to a 200foot (60-metre) strip immediately south and adjacent to the existing right-of-way between Arthur Drive and 41B Street. The options were exercised by B.C. Rail in 2008.

The myriad of rail improvements also includes the construction of a new lead track (a rail track that connects the rail yard with the main line) between 72nd Street and the Roberts Bank causeway, as well as other tracks. The port authority says a total of 70,000 feet of new track is required.

The public consultation sessions on the Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project wraps up Jan. 6, 2012.

The upcoming open houses will take place today at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Delta Town & Country Inn, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In addition, the port authority is holding a number of multi-stakeholder meetings in Delta and Richmond next week with local governments, community, agricultural and business groups.

For more information, visit www.portmetrovancouver.com.

sgyarmati@delta-optimist.com