Following a steady upward trend in container handling, Port Metro Vancouver expects to see container traffic double in the next 10 to 15 years. “Customer have also told us that it’s important that we bring on new container terminal capacity as quickly as possible,” says Cliff Stewart, Vice President of Infrastructure Delivery. Port Metro Vancouver’s Container Capacity Improvement Program (CCIP) was devised to ensure that the capacity required to meet anticipated needs is available in the future.
The CCIP program involves three distinct projects that could add more than 3.5 million TEUs of capacity to the Gateway by 2024. “We’re working diligently to address constraints,” says Cliff Stewart, Vice President of Infrastructure Delivery, “and deliver capacity incrementally, just before it’s needed.” The three projects in the CCIP program are: Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project; Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project; and Centerm Expansion Project. Each project features efficiency and infrastructure elements, and combined with ongoing operational initiatives, is intended to meet forecast capacity requirements for the Pacific Gateway through to 2030.
Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project
The Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project (DTRRIP), valued at $250 million, involves improvements designed to enhance the flow of traffic to and from Deltaport, as well as operational improvements within the terminal itself. These will add terminal capacity of 600,000 TEUs once complete in 2016. The project has been divided into three elements. The first, led by Port Metro Vancouver, addresses impediments to rail traffic in and out of the terminal. According to Stewart, the roadway leading to the terminal must currently be kept clear of rail traffic for three to five hours daily, to allow for employee access to and from the site. “Constructing an overpass will remove that limitation and increase rail car access to the terminal by about 20 per cent. Right away you increase capacity by increasing the time the terminal can operate.” This phase of the project is scheduled for completion in October 2014.
DTRRIP’s second element is a series of on-terminal improvements designed to increase terminal capacity. Carried out by the terminal operator, TSI Terminal Systems Inc. (TSI), this component includes changes to rail tracks within the intermodal yard and the installation of new container-handling equipment, including new rail-mounted gantry cranes. TSI is currently finalizing upgrade plans.
The third component of DTRRIP will be carried out by BC Rail, which has committed to building the additional tracks required to handle the increased rail traffic resulting from the terminal upgrades. Completion of the initial phase of this project is scheduled for the end of 2014, with delivery of further rail capacity planned for the end of 2015.
DTRIPP is proceeding on time and on budget, with all phases scheduled for completion by the end of 2016. Once complete, it will raise Deltaport’s total operating capacity from 1.8 million TEUs to 2.4 million TEUs.
Roberts Bank Terminal 2
In order to meet Canada’s trade objectives and long-term container capacity requirements, Port Metro Vancouver is proposing the construction of a new three-berth container terminal in Delta. Located adjacent to Deltaport, the facility could be operational as soon as 2024 and provide additional capacity of up to 2.4 million TEUs at Roberts Bank. In addition to the new terminal, the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project would include improvements to the road and rail infrastructure along a widened Roberts Bank causeway, as well as an expanded tug basin adjacent to Deltaport terminal. While the environmental work and preliminary engineering are being funded by Port Metro Vancouver, if approved the construction of the terminal would be privately financed.
In September 2013, the final Project Description was filed with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). In January 2014, the Federal Minister of Environment decided that the project would be reviewed by an independent review panel. Following a public comment period in 2013, draft guidelines for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were finalized. These will guide the preparation of the EIS, which Port Metro Vancouver plans to submit in early 2015.
The port authority is fully participating in the CEAA process and the public process that it entails but Stewart states that they’ve taken a “best practices” approach to public consultation on Terminal 2 that goes beyond CEAA requirements. “Everything we’ve done so far has been on our own initiative, and part of our usual best practices approach to project development.” More than 100 research studies have been initiated to study the potential impacts of the project and a fourth round of consultation focused on environmental mitigation, is planned for the autumn of 2014. “The objective of this project’s design is to have no significant environmental impact following the mitigation and that’s the direction we’re heading in,” he adds.
Stewart expects to be at the decision stage by mid-2017 to mid-2018, depending on the length of the review process. “We know what it will cost to build what we have proposed, but once a project goes through the environmental review there may be conditions attached to the project that change the cost. And at that time there will have to be a decision regarding whether the project is still financially viable. “
The newest project in the CCIP portfolio is a series of improvements to Centerm, located on the south shore of Burrard Inlet. The plan includes, among other initiatives, the reconfiguration of existing rail and roads, expansion of the container storage yard, and the necessary upgrade of Ballantyne Pier. These improvements would increase the terminal’s current capacity of 900,000 TEUs by at least 600,000 TEUs. The project is currently in the project definition phase.
“We’ll make a decision by the end of this year whether to go in to detailed field testing,” says Stewart. “We’re just in the front-end engineering stage now and have a few milestones to pass first.” He adds that a final investment decision will likely be made in mid-2015. “Assuming the decision can be made by then, we’re on a critical path for delivery of additional capacity at Centerm in late 2017 or early 2018.” Once the project clears the permitting stage, construction could begin in late 2016.
Container handling is a rapidly growing trade sector and with the CCIP program, Port Metro Vancouver is focused on building capacity to meet growing demand and, ultimately, better serving its customers.