Beeton man urges council to replace 9th Line bridge over CPR tracks

January 27, 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Wendy Gabrek
Gary Coleman of Beeton used more than the allowable seven minutes to plead his case, regarding improvements to the 9th Line at the Canada Pacific Railway (CPR) tracks intersection, during last week’s council meeting.
Coleman, the abutting landowner, noted that the Town’s plans to remove the current bridge (that allows traffic to pass over the CPR tracks, just east of Tottenham Road) and pave the road level with the train crossing was “not in our best interest.”
He asked that the Town consider a diversion road, or replacing the 100-year-old bridge instead.
“Let me start by making it clear that my intentions tonight are to request a vote from this council to stop the removal of this bridge on the 9th Line; which will change it to a flat/level crossing. I would like council to accept the CP proposal of either a bridge or a diversion road.
“My reasons are simple and are as follows … A new bridge would continue to ensure emergency vehicles crossing over the main line would have quick access to Stevenson Memorial Hospital without being stopped by a train.
“I would encourage you to ‘Google’ Level Crossing Accidents in Canada – you will be shocked by the number of deaths attributed to crossings.
“It has long been accepted that separation of road and train traffic is far more preferable for the safety of road users. In fact, due to the risk these crossings impose, both Australia and India have embarked on a significant, nationwide program to remove level crossings due to the safety issue or lack thereof.
“The occurrence of accidents involving Via and/or Go Trains and cars is staggering. We, here in New Tecumseth have already lost local residents to train crossing accidents – why would we add another potentially dangerous crossing so close to an existing one? Doesn’t this really create a double safety concern?
“In order to make this a level crossing, the existing road way will require excavating the existing grade by at least 20 feet, perhaps more. This will therefore create a very steep embankment on both sides of the road.
“In the winter, the embankments will create a dangerous wind tunnel and vortex effect which will blow in snow from the open field located above the road. This could create disastrous results as motorists would be extremely close to the crossing in whiteout conditions.
“Subsequent to the Ainley report which recommended a bridge option; a diversion road option was also considered.
“In a letter from Simcoe County dated Sept. 28, 2012, it is stated that County Road 10 is proposed to be upgraded to a ‘Controlled Access’ roadway status which will likely mean the need for a grade separation (an overpass bridge over the existing road crossing) in 20–30 years. One of the conditions in CP’s letter dated May 21, 2013, is that if a new level crossing was built in lieu of a bridge and in the event that an overpass were to be built on County Road 10, the new level crossing that is being proposed would need to be shut down and a diversion road created at that time.
“Why are we even considering a new crossing which CP wants build at the town’s expense and that could be closed in 20 to 30 years?
“The 9th Line has become a favorite route for dog walkers, cyclist and joggers.
“I believe that CP Rail’s proposal would ensure the replacement of the bridge at their cost. I also believe that according to CP Rail, the 9th Line bridge must be replaced this year as it has more than outlived its use. It was built over 100 years ago to standards that are now long outdated. A complete replacement of the bridge with adjustments that construct the bridge a little lower and a little wider is by far, a more viable solution that would ensure the safety of anyone using this route.
If the underlying reason is council’s desire to change the 9th Line into a Beeton bypass, they should at least acknowledge this along with the understanding that the concrete bridge on the 9th Line that crosses the Beeton Creek will also have to be replaced at great and additional cost.
“In final summary, I would like to say that a new bridge, paid for by CP is the safest and most cost effective remedial action for the existing bridge problem.  If this can’t be done, the second diversion road option should be a consideration.”
Ward 7 councillor, Shira Harrison McIntyre, asked the Director of Engineering, Rick Vatri, what issues faced the Town if the bridge were to be replaced.
Vatri said that during an extensive look at the options, there were several issues, including financial implications to the Town, that made a level crossing the most reasonable option.
These issues included the current and future road grade, the close proximity of Tottenham Road (maintained by the County of Simcoe), and proper clearance for a new over/underpass.
Due to the short distance between the County Road, the alignment would not allow for a diversion road either.
The one-lane concrete bridge further east, towards Beeton, will also need to be widened to make the 9th Line safer as the population continues to increase.
The level crossing and concrete bridge widening is eligible for payment through DCs (Development Charges).

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