Funds will be used to increase rail capacity and reduce truck traffic in downtown Halifax.
The government of Canada announced on Sunday that it will invest $47.5 million on two projects aimed at increasing capacity at the Port of Halifax and reducing truck traffic in downtown Halifax.
Marc Garneau, Canada’s minister of transport, and Andy Fillmore, a member of Canada’s Parliament, said part of the money will be used to increase storage capacity at the Port of Halifax by increasing capacity on a rail line that connects two container terminals located at different ends of Halifax peninsula. They are South End Container Terminal, operated by Halterm, and the Fairview Cove Container Terminal at the north end operated by Ceres.
Tracks will be added within the existing footprint of what’s known as the “rail cut” and four new rail-mounted cranes will be added to load and unload containers faster and more efficiently at both terminals.
Lane Farguson, a spokesman for the port, said a new container yard will be added near the Fairview Cove Container Terminal so that containers can be moved to and from the Halterm facility by rail, which is about 4 to 5 miles away, instead of by trucks driving through the heart of the Halifax.
Just last month PSA International, one of the world’s largest container terminal operators, said it had finalized an agreement to acquire Halterm from its current owner, Macquarie Infrastructure Partners.
CN Railway has said it wants to increase the amount of cargo moving through Halifax.
As a result of the the improvements, there will be an increase in the transportation of goods by rail between the two terminals in downtown Halifax and a reduction in traffic congestion, Transport Canada said.
Such a short distance shuttle train is unusual and “obviously it is not an economically driven exercise,” said Larry Gross of Gross Transportation Consulting, but he noted, “There are various constituencies the port has to please, and one of them is the neighbors.”
The operating details for the project are being worked out, but Farguson said truckers might be encouraged to put nonrefrigerated cargo on the rail shuttle by charging a fee.
A second project will upgrade the Windsor Street Exchange, which is the main access road to the Port of Halifax. This work includes realigning the Bedford Highway, upgrading Lady Hammond Road and installing new traffic signals to improve traffic flow. The government said the upgrades will reduce traffic congestion, improve safety and increase the reliability and efficiency of freight movements.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Garneau estimates the improvements will eliminate the need for about 75% of the container trucks that currently drive on the Halifax peninsula, and by reducing noise and pollution “make the quality of life for people living in downtown Halifax a heck of a lot better.”
Karen Oldfield, the chief executive officer of the Port of Halifax, told the CBC there are approximately 500 container trucks a day in the city during peak hours. Together, Halterm and the Ceres Fairview Cove Container Terminal made Halifax Canada’s fourth-largest container port in 2018, handling 547,445 TEUs.