Mayor Gregor Robertson and Jerry Dobrovolny, the city’s general manager of engineering, symbolically removed the first spike from the track along Arbutus Corridor near Fir Street and Second Avenue Friday morning. It marked the start of the rail removal process and the beginning of the city’s Arbutus Greenway project.
“Only 15,000 more to go,” joked Dobrovolny, holding up the first spike.
In actual fact, there are generally four spikes per railway tie, and there are 14,993 railway ties, so that would translate to approximately 59,972 spikes being removed.
In total, 8.8 kilometres of rail will be removed — 809 tons or 53,962 feet of railway. Just over 280 tons of other track material will also be taken away.
Canadian Pacific railway crews are responsible for removing the rail line from the nine-kilometre corridor, while city crews will remove it from 39 street and five lane crossings. The city will also be grading the route and creating a temporary asphalt path for the public to use in the short-term, while staff from the Arbutus Greenway project office hold public consultation meetings and work on the vision and design for the greenway.
When it’s completed, the design proposal will be brought before council.
Robertson called the start of rail removal “an exciting next step for our city.”
“We expect this to be extremely popular both with residents and visitors to Vancouver,” Robertson said. "The work is getting underway and we anticipate having a greenway in the near term that people can use, that people can walk, run, cycle, walk the dog [on]. We are looking to have some very modest facilities initially in terms of benches and lighting, but, of course, we’re embarking on a big consultation process and engaging the community in deciding the future of the Arbutus Greenway. In the meantime, we want to make sure it’s useable for residents and visitors to Vancouver — they can enjoy this new, incredible asset to the city.”
Heavy equipment is being used for the railway removal. The areas of the corridor that are under construction will be fenced off. CP expects to cover one kilometre a week. Work will take place during permitted city construction hours — 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays and holidays.
Information about the Arbutus Greenway project can be found at vancouver.ca/arbutus-greenway.