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Rail crossing talks back on track

BANFF – A proposal to build a safe pedestrian crossing at the railway line near the industrial compound to prevent a resident being struck and killed by a train is back on track.
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CP Trespassing Sign
CP Rail has installed new signage warning pedestrians to not trespass on its property as a short-cut to the Industrial Compound in Banff.

BANFF – A proposal to build a safe pedestrian crossing at the railway line near the industrial compound to prevent a resident being struck and killed by a train is back on track.

Locals illegally cross the Canadian Pacific railway line as a shortcut between Marmot Crescent and the industrial compound, which is a significant employment hub for many in town.

Banff council has given preliminary approval to spend $50,000 next year on detailed design of a tunnel or pedestrian bridge, but it’s not a done deal until capital budget is finalized.

“This design work needs to be done,” said Mayor Karen Sorensen, noting the $2 million construction remains unfunded at this time. “You just never know when funding might appear, so you want to be ground-ready.”

Councillor Peter Poole encouraged administration to go after outside funding.

“What I’d love to be able to do is tap into 25 cents a ton of sulphur going through our community and use that as a revenue source, but I don’t think we have a way to tax that,” he said.

Counters temporarily set up by the municipality show there’s more than 30,000 crossings a month in that location. In 2001, a 43-year-old woman was hit and injured by a freight train as she walked along the train tracks near the compound.

Walking Banff Avenue to the industrial compound takes about 30 minutes longer than using the illegal shortcut across the train tracks, or about 10 minutes longer for cyclists.

Over the years, the railway giant has shown no interest in building a level crossing on their land, arguing a bridge or tunnel at this location would be a far safer alternative given the high numbers of people illegally crossing.

Chad Townsend, the Town of Banff’s environmental services manager, said CP has indicated a willingness to work and facilitate construction of and overpass or underpass, noting they referenced box tunnel projects in Cochrane and Airdrie.

“They’re willing to work with us for one in Banff, but we need to advance the design at the Town’s cost,” he said, noting the design work will include geotechnical drilling and analysis, and looking at groundwater levels and land for access ramps.

CP spokeswoman Salem Woodrow said they are working closely with the Town of Banff regarding the proposed underpass or overpass.

In the meantime, she said CP police continue to patrol the Banff area frequently. “CP does not release ticket information,” she said.