It's coming up on the first anniversary of a gravel barge running into the Queensborough rail bridge, and the final safety report on the incident still isn't ready.
"We are still getting the initial draft report ready," said Chris Krepski, spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. "We are still in the report-writing phase, and we still need to get comments back."
Krepski said he couldn't put a timeframe on when the report would be ready, as incident reports like these take time, especially since there are three phases to putting it together. The first two phases, the field and post-field phase, have been completed, and investigators are in the third phase, which is the report production phase.
Krepski said after an initial draft is written, it goes out to designated reviewers for comment. Once those comments are analyzed, they go back to the board for approval. The report is written after these changes are incorporated, but that takes some more time, as the report also has to be translated.
On June 28, 2011, a gravel barge owned by Mercury Launch and Tug collided with the Queensborough rail bridge, severing the rail link to downtown New Westminster and closing off the North Arm of the Fraser River to boat traffic.
At the time of the accident, Frank Butzelaar, president of Southern Railway of British Columbia, the company that owns the bridge, told The Record that Southern Railway services 30 local companies with the bridge. The bridge has been in service since 1911 and handles eight to 10 crossings per day on average, according to the company. Freight carried over the bridge includes automobiles, forest products and industrial products.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada decided to conduct a full investigation into the incident. Raymond Mathew, marine investigation manager with the safety board, was working on that report when he spoke with The Record in October 2011.
"We're trying to see if we can confirm some more information. We are proceeding with the report. That's why there's a delay. It will be a while because TSB reports normally take a year to come out," Mathew said. "This report is not our only report. We have a lot in other areas."
Mathew said most of the information needed to complete the final report had been collected by October 2011, but investigators were still working to confirm some things and analyze all the gathered information for the final report.
A previous Transport Canada investigation found Mercury Launch and Tug, the company that owned the barge shipping the gravel, was in compliance with transportation and safety regulations at the time of the accident.
The Fraser River was experiencing a higher than normal freshet and flow rate at the time, and the channel beyond the bridge around Poplar Island is known for being difficult to navigate.