The Vancouver Waterfront Access Project was completed in early 2014. On Sept. 29, 2014, the Port of Vancouver began work on on the next development milestone: the installation of deep underground utilities in the southern end of Columbia Street. More information.
Please note: Sixth Street will remain closed on weekends for the Farmers Market per the Market's existing street-use permit.
The Vancouver Waterfront Access Project restores the historic direct connection of the community to the Columbia River waterfront and opens the way for future waterfront redevelopment of a former industrial site, expected to energize an estimated $1.3 billion in new private investment in the community. In addition to removing barriers between the community and the river, this work will improve the efficiency and safety of vital rail traffic in Vancouver. The project took place in two phases: a Railway Phase and a Roadway Phase. Including Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway's portion, this is a $44 million effort that includes design, rights-of-way acquisition and construction.
Begun in January 2011 and constructed by BNSF, the Railway Phase is complete. This phase included reconstruction of the main rail line from Columbia Street to Jefferson Street, construction of an earthen berm and and new bridge structures at Esther and Grant streets. The BNSF project also allows the closure of the at-grade rail crossings at Jefferson Street and Eighth Street. Port area access will then be possible by way of the Grant Street underpass. The overall project will also improve the safety and efficiency of BNSF Railway operations in Vancouver by decreasing delays on the main rail line and eliminating two at-grade crossings, at Jefferson Street and Eighth Street.
Construction of the Roadway Phase began in April 2013 and was completed in early 2014. Nutter Construction was the lowest responsive bidder and the contractor for this City of Vancouver phase of the project, which included:
Drawing on stakeholder input, several design principles and recommendations helped shape the nature of the Grant Street and Esther Street underpasses. These include:
Permanent closure of Eighth Street to vehicles at the at-grade rail crossing took place in January 2013. Permanent closure of Jefferson Street to vehicles at the at-grade rail crossing occurs in August 2013. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires train horns to sound at all at-grade crossings. The only exemption is where quiet zones have been officially certified following the installation of safety measures to compensate for the absence of the horns. According to BNSF, routine train horns will no longer be needed at the Eighth and Jefferson streets at-grade crossing after they are closed to non-rail traffic. Safety improvements planned for the West 11th Street crossing are intended to allow for silencing of routine horns there at some future date, not yet determined.