The Second Narrows Rail Bridge is a vertical lift railway bridge that crosses the Burrard Inlet and connects Vancouver with the North Shore. As the name suggests, it is located at the second narrowing of the Burrard Inlet.
The original Second Narrows Bridge was constructed in 1925, and was the first bridge to connect Vancouver with the North Shore over the tidal bore of the narrows. This bridge was constructed, by John Stewart and Northern Construction, with a car deck and a year later in 1926 trains began using the bridge as well. After being hit by a number of ships and being out of service for 4 years, in 1933 the provincial government bought the bridge and installed a lift section of the deck.
In 1960 a new much larger (350 m, 1,150 ft, span) and higher 6 highway lane Second Narrows Bridge was completed alongside the original bridge, and the original bridge was converted exclusively for rail use. In 1994 the new road bridge was renamed the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing in honor of the ironworkers who died in accidents while building it. However, the new bridge is still commonly referred to as the Second Narrows Bridge.
The 1926 railbridge was replaced in 1969 by CN Rail with a larger, higher lift bridge. A bridgetender activates cables and counterweights to raise the span. Unless moving a train across the Burrard inlet, the lift section is always in the up position to allow ships to go underneath. The Lions' Gate Bridge spans the first narrows of Burrard Inlet.
The current CN Second Narrows railway bridge has a vertical clearance of 46 meter at the main lift span fully raised (open position). The vertical lift section of the Second Narrows Railway Bridge provides 137 meters clear navigation width between rubbing fenders. However, the Ironworkers Second Narrows road bridge has a vertical clearance of 44 meters and the shipping channel where the maximum vertical clearance is available is 110 metres wide.