Statement: Closure of Bailey Street gravel road planned

The District of Squamish will be installing gates on the gravel section of Bailey Street in the near future, north of the Downtown area, closing the road except for emergency purposes.

Access to the Westbarr Road/Squamish Estuary Trails will remain open to the public.

The road is being closed to fulfill a long-standing agreement with CN Railways dating back to 1979 that has allowed the District to use Bailey Street as an emergency access route. However, the agreement required that the two rail crossings be gated to allow for emergency traffic only, a condition of which has not been met since the original agreement was signed. Due to noticeable deterioration of the rail crossings from increased public use, the gates are now required by the historical agreement.

The road will still be available and the gates opened in times of an emergency, and all emergency services responders will have keys in order to able to use the road as needed. 

Future public use of the road would require designing the crossings with CN Railways, and then an application to Transport Canada for approval as a public crossing, and subsequent associated costs related to crossings and upgrades in order to meet current Transport Canada standards, estimated to be in the magnitude of several hundred thousand dollars for basic crossings. The costs escalate substantially if items such as automatic barriers are needed. The District does not consider this a cost-effective solution in the short-term due to emergency access being able to be maintained, but this could be considered as an option in a future budget.  

The District recognizes the community’s concern about a second access to the downtown area (which will still be available during an emergency), and there are plans in place to achieve that. A second access is planned from the new Clarke Drive intersection off Highway 99, which will extend along Laurelwood Road to a Pemberton Avenue bridge. This plan is still a few years away pending population growth and funding. The District is very active with the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to this end.

For the last four years, the District has been working with CN to upgrade all of the rail crossings in the community, which total 21. This was due to a new regulation from Transport Canada requiring that all crossings Canada-wide be upgraded to meet updated standards. The District has applied for federal grant funding annually to help fund this work, but has been unsuccessful due to the volume of municipalities vying for the same funding. However, in conjunction with CN, minor improvements have been made to ensure that most of the crossings meet current standards. One notable exception is the Cleveland Avenue crossing, which the District is working with CN to plan for upgrades to in the near future.

 

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March 8, 2021

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Comments

  • Dan Blais Jun 15, 2022, 10:50 AM (8 months ago)

    I agree with Chris Chayko's comment regarding "pave it, don't close it". I drove this road often as a local access to the retail sector like Home Depot, Walmart etc. from downtown, as I'm sure many residents did. It seems financially logical to just upgrade the track crossing as needed and pave the existing gravel section including paved shoulders for bikers and pedestrians. This would take an enormous traffic load off the Cleveland - Buckley intersection which will be a huge plus when all the condo's that are under construction get populated. Also, to do this in the future will just cost way more money. I am sure the contract with CN Railways can be amended with some good politics. After all, they (CN) let it ride for over 40 years, so it seems like a minor issue to them. Also, I would question the response time to get the gates open quickly in an emergency. Thanks, Dano

  • Anne Bright Mar 24, 2021, 12:08 PM (23 months ago)

    Any timeline when tracks will be removed and development will commence in this area?

    • Communications Mar 24, 2021, 1:01 PM (23 months ago)

      Hi Anne. The tracks are going to remain and there are no plans for development in the area. The closure is related to an old agreement the District has with BC Rail Properties and is not related to any development proposals.

  • E Carson Mar 9, 2021, 12:29 AM (23 months ago)

    Yea! About time they returned this road to its original purpose, emergency access! It is not maintained and is nothing but a dust pit for speeding vehicles, hopefully now this is being addressed.

  • Chris Chayko Mar 8, 2021, 11:57 PM (23 months ago)

    Pave it don't close it.

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