A vehicle crosses the level crossing on 49th Avenue in Innisfail. The Town of Innisfail is upset about a recent bill issued by CP Rail for work done at the intersection.

A vehicle crosses the level crossing on 49th Avenue in Innisfail. The Town of Innisfail is upset about a recent bill issued by CP Rail for work done at the intersection.

Town fights rail work bills

The Town of Innisfail is feeling a little railroaded.

The Town of Innisfail is feeling a little railroaded.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. recently sent the town a pair of bills totalling $160,100.38 for maintenance and repair work done on two local rail crossings at 49th Avenue and 50th Street.

One bill for about $75,000 for work on 50th Street was later withdrawn, with an apology from CP that it had been sent in error.

But that still leaves the town holding the bag for about $85,000 to cover part of the work on 49th Avenue.

Craig Teal, Innisfail’s director of planning and operational services, said the bills were completely unexpected.

“We’re waiting to get some more detailed explanations ourselves on how this comes to be,” Teal said.

In discussions with CP officials it appears that the town wasn’t billed for the 50th Street work because the road was there before the railway tracks so its CP’s responsibility. However, at 49th Avenue the road came after the tracks so the town is expected to cost-share.

“That being said, we usually don’t get bills out of the blue from CP,” Teal added.

There had been no prior notification from CP that it expected the town to pick up some of the work nor was there any consultation about projected costs. The town has not budgeted for the work in its recently completed 2014 budget.

Innisfail pays $1,600 a month for basic track and crossing maintenance.

The town has also contributed to other crossing projects in the past, but it hasn’t resulted in surprise bills.

Teal said the town is hoping to meet with CP to discuss the issue further and is hoping the second bill will be withdrawn.

CP spokesman Kevin Hrysak said both crossings were replaced as part of a track maintenance program to ensure safety at public grade crossings, he said.

“The work (at 49th Avenue) that took place consisted of replacing the crossing surface from the rubber mat surfaces to a more durable and longer lasting concrete surface.”

The town was billed as part of a road authorities agreement that outlines cost-sharing.

Hrysak said CP is aware of the community’s concerns and plans to further discuss the issue.

This isn’t the only headache the railroad construction has caused. When the 50th Street crossing was upgraded to a heavier gauge of track the crossing was significantly higher leading to complaints from local drivers.

The town reduced the speed at the crossing to 20 km/h to spare people’s vehicles. CP later came in and smoothed out the bump, although it is still higher than it used to be, Teal said.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com