Brandon Manitoba - As the Eighth Street bridge comes down, the City of Brandon is working closely with Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) to ensure the major demolition project does not impact train operations.
The busy rail yard has a train frequency of approximately 18-23 trains per 24 hour period, according to CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow.
"It is a bit of a challenge," said Aaron Kaluzniak, the city's manager of infrastructure. But working with CP and the rail company's private contractor, they've been able to co-ordinate.
"They've been very good and everyone's been working really well together, so we've been very happy with that so far."
The bridge dismantling began on 29 May 2017 and according to Kaluzniak, it is going smoothly.
The removal of the superstructure itself is about 50 percent complete, but Kaluzniak notes there is a lot of other work to do.
"Sometimes the amount that we can get done in the demolition depends on what kind of traffic volumes they're seeing through the rail yard," he said.
"At some times during summer when it can peak, it will slow our demolition down a little bit, but right now it's been pretty favourable for us."
The city hasn't received an updated completion date, but the contractor is stipulated to be finished by October.
If the project continues to move quickly, Kaluzniak expects a substantial amount completed within the next month.
During demolition, the CP Police Service has increased its patrols in the Brandon yard.
As Woodrow explains, crossing over railway tracks anywhere other than a designated crossing is trespassing.
"It is illegal and incredibly dangerous. Sadly, there are a large number of fatalities and serious incidents involving trespassers and trains each year," Woodrow said.
According to Transportation Safety Board statistics, across Canada in 2016 the number of trespasser incidents increased dramatically to 69 in 2016 from 50 in 2015, a 38 percent increase, resulting in 46 deaths.
That number doesn't include the many near misses that occur every day, Woodrow added.
If you are hit by a train, the chances you will survive are not in your favour.
Trespassing is a federal offence under the Rail Safety Act and can be dealt with criminally carrying maximum fines of $5,000 to $10,000 with the possibility of imprisonment.
In most cases, people are issued tickets for trespassing.
The fine in Manitoba is $220.
"The CP Police Service is working closely with Brandon police and will remain visible in the area to educate pedestrians of the law," Woodrow said.
As the bridge demolition continues, the city is also working to determine options for a new pedestrian/active transportation bridge to be built in its place.
Two public open houses have been held, and city staff has taken suggestions back to their consultants.
"They're going to develop some options based on the input that we received from the public consultation, as well as input that city administration and council has previously given," Kaluzniak said.
The plan is to present conceptual design options to the public in the fall, followed by a council decision in October.