Evergreen Line construction mishap halts Coquitlam traffic

A problem with the construction of the Evergreen Line track has shut down traffic in both directions on Como Lake Avenue near Clark Road in Coquitlam, B.C.

Como Lake Avenue near Clarke Road will be closed at at least until late Friday afternoon

Part of overpass shifted on a support column during construction 2:10

A problem with the construction of the Evergreen Line track has shut down traffic in both directions on Como Lake Avenue near Clarke Road in Coquitlam, B.C.

It appears a large part of the elevated concrete track structure, which crosses Como Lake Avenue, somehow shifted early Friday morning.

Neighbours reportedly heard a loud bang around 1:30 a.m. PT and called police, who shut down traffic in the area.

Traffic on Como Lake Avenue in Coquitlam was shut down on Friday morning after a section of the new Evergreen Line track shifted on the support columns. (CBC)

Nasir Kurji, the construction manager for the Evergreen Project, was on the scene around 6 a.m. and said the situation is not dangerous because the structure is stable, and he does not expect the problem will create any significant project delays.

"We've had the construction workers identify a minor movement in the guideway this morning and we've called the engineers to make an assessment. And once we make an assessment that it's safe, then we'll open up Como Lake."

Just before noon, officials issued an update saying Como Lake Avenue is expected to be closed to traffic at least until rush hour. 

Crews examine a section of overhead track on the Evergreen Line in Coquitlam, B.C., after it shifted early Friday morning. (CBC)

Coquitlam residents nervous about track

The long-awaited Evergreen Line SkyTrain route will cost an estimated $1.4 billion by the time it opens in the summer of 2016. Boring of the tunnelled sections began earlier this month. 

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said so far there have been few hiccups in construction.

"There is no question this is a complex project and it was going along really smoothly. But that's what happens when things go smoothly, eventually you have a glitch and this was a glitch," he said.

Drivers in the area say they have been concerned about that particular part of the elevated track, some saying it hangs too low and it's nerve wracking to drive under it in a car.

"I sit at that light sometimes and I pray I don't hit the light so I will be right underneath it," said Coquitlam resident Christa Riddell.

"Every day I was driving by, because I have seen it since it was going up, I told my wife don't pull under it on a red light because I just had a feeling about it," said Margo Bruni, another Coquitlam resident.

But Stewart said drivers should not be nervous about driving underneath the construction.

"It weighs more than anything you can imagine, and it's supported on four corners by more concrete. I fully expect that they'll solve the problem, but they won't be able to solve perceptions by motorists that it failed once," he said.

The Evergreen crew said they could not have anticipated Friday's mishap, and that the contractor will be paying to fix it.

Once completed the 11-kilometre rapid transit line will run at ground level, on elevated tracks and below ground through a bored tunnel from the Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby to the Coquitlam Town Centre, via Port Moody.

Google Maps: Como Lake Avenue and Clark Road

With files from the CBC's Richard Zussman