September 01, 2016 - 6:30 PM
OKANAGAN - Construction is unlikely to begin before 2017 on the Okanagan rail trail, even if the money needed to build it is raised.
Project leader Andrew Gibb said the track and ties are scheduled to be completely gone from the corridor between Kelowna and Vernon by mid-October.
“We still haven’t pulled the road crossings,” Gibbs added. “It will be 2017 at the earliest."
Once the ties and rails are fully removed by Westcan, a CN contractor, Gibbs said there will then be examination for possible geotechnical hazards on rock walls edging the corridor.
As well, CN must then complete any environmental remediation required to bring the corridor to an industrial standard.
“That doesn’t mean just going in there with a backhoe,” Gibbs said. “It has to be certified to a certain standard."
Only then will construction begin, assuming the $7.7 million cost has been raised by the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative.
While some areas are further ahead than others, Gibbs said construction will not start until the whole trail can be brought to a basic standard.
“We don’t want to get into doing it in bits and pieces,” he said.
Still, that doesn’t stop the partner communities from moving ahead on portions of the trail that pass through their jurisdiction, Gibbs said, if they can find the money.
“I know Kelowna is already looking at paving a portion near UBC Okanagan to help with bike traffic,” Gibbs said.
The 48-kilometre trail was purchased from CN Rail in 2015 after Kelowna Pacific Railway, which was subletting the line, went out of business in 2014.
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