CN says no to walkway on bridge
Leaders on both sides of the Thompson River are expressing frustration over CN’s decision not to add a walkway to its rail bridge.
For more than a decade, the T’kemlups Indian Band (TIB) has been pushing for a walkway on the bridge, which connects Riverside Park with band land.
Earlier this year, the City of Kamloops agreed to throw its political weight behind the project.
But, in a letter to the two councils dated Oct. 5, CN’s assistant vice president for B.C. south said the company won’t pursue the plan.
“Our belief is that putting a walking trail on a rail line over a bridge generates an unacceptably high level of risk,” wrote Michael Farkouh.
He said the company is willing to look at ways to deter people from trespassing on the bridge, however.
TIB Chief Shane Gottfriedson said the response is disappointing, given the number of deaths that have occurred due to people walking on the bridge over the years.
“They’re more worried about their liability issues than looking at the public- safety concern, in my opinion,” he said.
“We’ve spent a number of years dialoguing and talking about this issue and, for us, I think it’s frustrating that, after all these years of talk, they finally say what they’ve said.”
In the letter, Farkouh said a study conducted by CN for two weeks this year showed of the 1,646 pedestrians crossing the river, only 36 used the CN Rail Bridge
to do so.
Mayor Peter Milobar said the number of people crossing the bridge isn’t the main issue.
“It’s about the risk that happens when those movements happen and the numbers of deaths we’ve seen over the years, especially of TIB members,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily a heavily used crossing for pedestrians, but it is a very dangerous one and it’s actually occurring.
“So, I guess we’ll have to keep working with CN to try to figure out ways to get that number down to a zero.”
Gottfriedson said the band will likely lobby the federal Ministry of Transportation to determine if there’s another way to get a walkway built to Riverside.
City council will also write a letter to CN expressing its disappointment about the decision.