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Thursday, October 24, 2013

City loses CN lawsuit

Cost of repairing 12 bridges now rests with HRM.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 9:03 AM

There's good news for potential commuter rail service in Halifax, but the city's going to have to pay for it. Last week saw the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia side with CN Rail over the HRM in a dispute that's been dragging on for years regarding the maintenance and repair costs for railway bridges.

CN Rail had presumed it would cover the maintenance of the foundation, support arches and concrete box of the 12 reinforced concrete railway bridges carrying roads over CN tracks in the HRM. According to a 2009 agreement, the city would handle upkeep of the roads, asphalt, sidewalk and curbs.

But both sides had been contesting who should look after the sub-surface bridge layers, falling between the street level and the bridge's arch. Justice Arthur LeBlanc ruled in favour of CN Rail, finding the city responsible for the sub-surface layers, as well as the relocation of utility lines.

Though structurally sound, several of the bridges (including those on South Street, Tower Road and Jubilee Road) are almost a century old and in need of repairs. Justice LeBlanc's decision doesn't include when the repairs are likely to begin, or how much they will now cost the city.

The decision to this multi-year legal contest clears the way for a feasibility study on a community rail service which was proposed over two years ago. Metro Transit has been trying to get the $250,000 study off the ground, but CN Rail was previously uncooperative until the legal matters against the municipality were decided.

With those hurdles now cleared, it's likely the study can get underway without further impedance. The proposed report will look at operating a rail service using existing tracks, running between Enfield, Windsor Junction, through to Bedford and to the downtown VIA Rail Station next to the Westin hotel.


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