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23 June 2009

City, CP Agree to Study Move of Downtown Yard

Saskatoon Saskatchewan - Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway have reached an agreement in principle to move railcar switching out of the downtown core, city council heard Monday.
The move, which would still see trains running through the city, could finally make it possible for the city to extend 25th Street to Idylwyld Drive, city manager Murray Totland told council.
Totland was commenting on a memorandum of understanding between the City of Saskatoon and Canadian Pacific Railway, which was approved by council.
Those two parties have entered into an MOU that allows the design work to continue on the 25th Street extension.
That will allow the discussions between the three parties to continue.
"This is a very complex situation," Totland said. "In order for us to extend 25th we need to relocate (the switching yard). We couldn't build 25th Street without moving that operation out of there."
The city, CP Rail, and CN Rail have been in negotiations for several years on moving the yard out of the north downtown.
Switching of rail cars poses one of the biggest impediments to redeveloping the city yards and the warehouse district along the 25th Street extension.
The moving of switching operations would be accomplished by installing a new rail connection between the CP and CN lines near 11th Street and Dundonald Avenue as part of the Circle Drive South project, Totland said.
Under the agreement, CN Rail would run railcars through the city along CP Rail's main line into CP's yard in Sutherland, he said.
CP would run cars across the city to CN's Chappell Yards south of Montgomery.
The new piece of rail would render the downtown switching operations unnecessary.
The city would pay for the capital costs to build the short extension as part of the south bridge project.
The agreement, which isn't legally binding, also provides that the city pay for a risk assessment of up to $250,000 to study the proposed new 25th Street rail crossing to ensure it would be safe.
"We're finally getting somewhere," said Mayor Don Atchison.
"This is important," said Coun. Charlie Clark. "We are totally interdependent."
Coun. Pat Lorje said she supports the move but worries about noise from the railroads for the surrounding neighbourhoods around 11th Street. "I don't want to see us just exchanging one problem for another problem," she said.
The approved alignment of 25th Street, with a three-way intersection at Idylwyld Drive at the CP Rail crossing, was approved late last year.
The alignment would see 25th Street continue from where it ends at First Avenue and wind through the city yards to Idylwyld Drive.
A new $91-million police station is planned on the largest piece of land.
David Hutton.
Cordova Station is located on Vancouver Island British Columbia Canada