Work to boost the stability of the BNSF tracks just north of White Rock that were impacted by the Dec. 20 windstorm is expected to continue “over the next five, six weeks.”
Railway spokesman Gus Melonas told Peace Arch News Monday that the rail line is “safe for all types of movement,” but that steps are being taken “to even further enhance the stability and help fight back Mother Nature.”
The storm – which caused millions of dollars in damage to White Rock’s iconic pier – was so powerful, it washed away rocks “the size of Volkswagens,” Melonas said.
“We’re bringing in rail cars of large rocks to even further enhance the stability and help fight back Mother Nature in the future.”
As of Monday, approximately 30 rail cars, each “designed to bring in 100 ton of rock,” had been transported for distribution along “10 miles” of track from the border north.
Freight and passenger-train service between Bellingham and Vancouver was temporarily interrupted Friday (Jan. 4), when a mudslide struck at around noon.
Melonas told PAN it occurred “two miles north of White Rock,” and that crews and equipment from both Bellingham and B.C. were dispatched.
The slide is “roughly 60 feet wide and 10 feet deep,” he said Friday.
“It’s trees, limbs, rocks, mud on the track. It appears as if the slope is solid and there’s no more debris coming down.”
Monday, Melonas confirmed that freight trains resumed operating on the line that same evening, and that the passenger-train suspension was lifted at noon Sunday.
“We brought in on-track equipment, so cranes on the rail that removed the debris,” Melonas said. “We had the track cleared by 6 p.m. (Friday).”
Melonas said inspectors are continuing to monitor the slope, roadbed and shoreline.
Wednesday, BNSF also began assisting the City of White Rock with cleanup along the beach area.
Melonas told PAN that a “multi-functional track maintenance train” was brought up to move logs gathered by city crews to Totem Park. The city is to collect the logs from there to re-distribute, he said.
He described the work as “a goodwill effort.”
“Partnering and lending a hand to make safe and beautify the beach area.”
That work and cleanup of the BNSF right-of-way is anticipated to continue Thursday and over “the next few weeks,” Melonas added, noting it will be carried out on weekdays, during “maintenance windows” scheduled around freight and passenger train service.