Every morning, commuters travel the Trans Canada Highway to Valleyview for work across the train tracks.
After about a decade in the area, one employee is concerned about increasingly long waits for trains to clear the tracks, with multiple businesses worth of staff backed up on the highway in both directions, stopped dead waiting for the train to clear.
“We’ve got 70 employees plus everybody else over here and they’re all sitting there and they’re backed up down the highway,” Top 40 Woodworks controller Rob Brown told KTW.
“Somebody’s going to be coming down there past the Brick [heading east] and rear-end somebody because that’s how far it backs up.
“You can’t go anywhere. You’re stopped, you’re waiting to cross over the tracks. When a train sits there 20 minutes, sometimes it seems like the train goes by and the conductor stops in downtown Kamloops and goes for lunch or something and he’s still blocking the intersection.”
Brown said the problem has worsened in the last year.
“There’s trains all day long, so you have to plan to come to work early because odds are, you’re going to hit a train,” he said.
“And big deal, you just plan for that. You know, when it’s five minutes, it’s one thing. But when it’s that long? Especially at a shift change first thing in the morning or after or during the busy periods.
“It’s like, wow. Sometimes you’ll see half-a-dozen garbage trucks lined up there because Emterra is right beside us.”
CP Rail media relations advisor Salem Woodrow said in an email to KTW that traffic concerns should be brought to the local road authority, which would be the Ministry of Transportation.
In addition, Woodrow said Transport Canada’s Grade Crossing Regulations prohibit a train from standing still on a public grade crossing for longer than five minutes.
“If a train is shunting [switching] over a public grade crossing, the crew must clear the crossing every five minutes to allow vehicle or pedestrian passage,” Woodrow said.
“When an emergency vehicle requires passage, employees must co-operate to quickly clear the public grade crossing. In the event of an emergency requiring vehicular passage at a grade crossing, contact the CP Police Service immediately at 1-800-716-9132.”
Brown said when he calls the CP Rail Police, the trains move within 10 minutes.
However, that does little to mitigate his concerns around safety.
As vehicles fly by in the other lane at highway speeds, those waiting for the train are essentially what he called sitting ducks.
“Somebody needs to do something before someone gets killed,” he said.
“Tunnel under it [train tracks], go over it, make an alternative route.
“I think it’s further compounded when once upon a time you used to be able to get out at the Brick. Then they took that out. So now all the traffic is down at that intersection and it’s insane. But the train is the biggest contributor.”
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said in an email statement it has been working with the City of Kamloops and CP Rail to address congestion as a result of railway traffic at the Kelly Douglas Road crossing and its close proximity to the highway.
“Work has been undertaken to review the signal timing for both the traffic signal and the railway crossing, to see if enhancements can be made on both the ministry and municipal road network,” the email stated.
It expects that review will be completed in early 2020. In the meantime, MOT advised drivers in the Valleyview corridor to expect congestion and queueing at various locations during peak times.
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