Nanaimo ferry terminal to Gabriola closed after trestle collapses

Paving truck full of asphalt dumped into the water early Friday

Ferry service between downtown Nanaimo and Gabriola Island will be disrupted for at least the weekend after the trestle at the Nanaimo B.C. Ferries terminal gave way

Ferry service between downtown Nanaimo and Gabriola Island will be disrupted for at least the weekend after the trestle at the Nanaimo B.C. Ferries terminal gave way

Ferry service between downtown Nanaimo and Gabriola Island will be disrupted for at least the remainder of the weekend after the trestle at the Nanaimo B.C. Ferries terminal gave way, dumping a Royal Paving truck full of asphalt into the water early Friday.

Paving was taking place at 3:45 a.m., following the installation of a new water line at the terminal, when the truck went on the wooden trestle that leads to the ferry boarding ramp.

The truck rolled off the trestle and fell about four metres, landing upside down in the water. The truck’s driver managed to jump out of the vehicle as it went over and escaped serious injury.

A B.C. Ferries safety officer positioned in a skiff below the trestle where it collapsed managed to jump clear and was also unhurt.

The driver suffered minor injuries, while the trestle was damaged and put out of commission.

Mark Stefanson, B.C. Ferries spokesman, said a structural engineer was on site assessing the trestle’s structural integrity.

“It’s major damage done to the trestle,” Stefanson said. “It’s going to be out of service for a number of days, that’s for sure.”

The 5:25 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. departures from Gabriola and 5:55 a.m. and 7 a.m. from Nanaimo were cancelled, but service resumed for the 7:40 a.m. sailing from Gabriola with the MV Quinsam docking at B.C. Ferries Duke Point terminal.

A bus met Gabriola foot passengers at Duke Point, transporting them to downtown Nanaimo. A water taxi began ferrying foot passengers between Gabriola and Nanaimo for the 8:50 a.m. sailing.

Vehicle service through Duke Point will continue until repairs are made and B.C. Ferries is 100 per cent confident the trestle is safe, said Darin Guenette, B.C. Ferries spokesman .

“At first glance, that is not going to be short-term,” he said. “To the average passenger, the trestle looks like a little roadway, but underneath it is the typical criss-cross wooden railroad trestle.”

B.C. Ferries conducts regular maintenance inspections on the trestle and Guenette said the company is confident the structure is secure for the loads it takes.

“The whole issue was the truck was on a part of the trestle where you’re not supposed to have that load,” he said. “It was on the passenger walkway which is not reinforced as much as the  road way.”

Containment booms were placed in the water around the truck and workers on a barge removed debris from the crash including broken railings and trestle timbers.

Guenette said Transport Canada, the Transportation Safety Board,  Ministry of the Environment, WorkSafeBC and Fisheries and Oceans Canada had been contacted regarding the incident.

“Once we can access how and when to start moving the truck we will be ready for any environmental analysis and cleanup,” he said.