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New Westminster, TransLink seek to replace dangerous parkway path

The city of New Westminster is looking at a proposal to acquire the stretch of abandoned rail line next to the SkyTrain guideway to move the walking and cycling trail further away from busy Stewardson Way. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
The city of New Westminster is looking at a proposal to acquire the stretch of abandoned rail line next to the SkyTrain guideway to move the walking and cycling trail further away from busy Stewardson Way.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

The city and TransLink hope to replace a dangerous stretch of the BC Parkway adjacent to Stewardson Way by moving the bike/pedestrian path to an unused railway right-of-way.

The parkway path between Fifth Avenue and 14th Street is a narrow one underneath the SkyTrain on the south side of Stewardson, a heavily used truck and commuter route.

Since there is no buffer between it and eastbound traffic, the city and TransLink are exploring negotiations with the Southern Railway of B.C. for use of unused rail track that runs parallel to the SkyTrain on the other side of the pillars. The move follows a recommendation from the city's bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee.

"It's been there since the SkyTrain line was built (1986), but with more and more people using [the path], concern has been raised," said Eugene Wat, New Westminster's manager of infrastructure planning. "We need to get permission to negotiate rights to use that for this parkway connection. We have started discussion with TransLink and Southern Railway, but we're at the very early stage and we'll have to follow up and see if they will allow us to do that."

Wat said both short and long-term solutions will be explored. Wat added that, in general, the parkway in New Westminster is safe, and only this short segment causes concern.

"Our objective is to provide more separation from the user and traffic," said Wat. "There seems to be a solution. TransLink is really supportive of this."

TransLink spokeswoman Jennifer Siddon confirmed they were in the early stages of discussions on improving safety there.

Frank Butzelaar, president of the New Westminster-based railway, was unavailable for comment.

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