The railway crossing warning system at Fourth Street and Victoria Road is slated for removal.

The railway crossing warning system at Fourth Street and Victoria Road is slated for removal.

Revelstoke Council balks at railway crossing bill

Council feels price to remove railway warning system at 4th & Victoria is too high, sends staff to re-negotiate

Revelstoke City Council has balked at a CP Rail offer to remove the crossing warning system at Victoria Road and Fourth Street, opting to hold out for better terms.

In a report to council, the City of Revelstoke’s engineering department said removing the large steel towers would be a safety improvement for motorists, and could help facilitate future safety improvements to the dangerous intersection.

CP approached city officials with a cost-sharing plan to removed the large metal warning system towers, saying they weren’t needed anymore because CP used the crossing only a handful of times a year. They’ll be replaced with standard rail crossing ‘X’ signs, and railway staff will manually flag at the intersection on the rare occasions trains cross there.

The cost for the city’s half of the removal is $14,000, something the city’s engineering department argued would pay for itself, since CP bills the city $3,656 annually for maintenance. In addition, the city is liable for repairs if the warning system is damaged in a motor vehicle accident.

Citing the $14,000 bill, city councillors rejected the plan, asking city staff to attempt to negotiate a better deal with CP.

Councillor Gary Starling said the price tag was too high. “They basically need a truck, and they need a person,” he said, questioning the $14,000 cost.

“I’m concerned about the cost also,” said Councillor Tony Scarcella.

Engineering director Mike Thomas said the work had to be done by CP and couldn’t be subcontracted out.

Councillor Linda Nixon supported moving forward with the removal, saying Canadian railways maintain an itemized price list for any work conducted by railways on rail property. Although the costs are steep, Nixon said it was hard to avoid.

In a split vote with Nixon opposed, city councillors opted to send staff back to try to negotiate a better price.

In response to questions from the Times Review, Mayor Raven downplayed concerns that CP could rescind the offer to remove the crossing warning towers, which could delay safety upgrades to the dangerous intersection.

The City of Revelstoke’s engineering department noted removing the towers would improve safety at the intersection by simplifying the road users’ experience there.

In their report, the engineering department also said removing the towers would free up real estate for safety upgrades to the intersection and that removing the towers would likely be required to make room for those safety upgrades.

Revelstoke City Council has received – but not approved – a draft of the Transportation Master Plan. In 2009, city council hired a Victoria-based transportation consulting firm to draw up a plan to serve as a roadmap for transportation infrastructure for the next ten to twenty years. That plan identified the dangerous Fourth Street and Victoria Road intersection as a priority for upgrades and safety improvements.

Four years after council embarked on the transportation plan, it remains on the shelf, awaiting council approval.