What to do about the ageing Pattullo Bridge

Sukhi Kang 604-377-1246

TransLink's  CEO Ian Jarvis says they're looking for a plan that offers the lowest cost, but also supports the rest of the TransLink's plan in the region.

The four-lane bridge between New Westminster and Surrey is 76 years old and has been in use 26 years longer than was projected.

While there are 25 options for what to do, the TransLink bridge is going to be seismically upgraded no matter what’s decided — especially with an average of 73,000 vehicles crossing the narrow bridge on weekdays.

TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel said work is being done now to find out the extent of the work that’ll have to be done later.

TransLink doesn’t have enough money now to proceed with either a rehab or bridge replacement, but the transportation authority didn’t have the money for the Golden Ears Bridge either and went ahead by relying on tolls.

The Pattullo Bridge Review Consultation report that was released Monday before the first of the public consultations Tuesday mentions tolls among the common policies identified to establish the objectives of the bridge review. As likely as a toll would seem for a cash-strapped group like TransLink, Zabel denied it was the only choice.

“It’s too early to determine how a repair or replacement will be funded,” said Zabel. “Tolling would be explored, along with other options.”

TransLink consulted with the public on the bridge last year and came up with six preferred choices, but learned that citizens wanted more consideration of the many solutions. That’s why there’s another round of gauging public responses in conjunction with the cities of Surrey and New West.

The options range from a crossing in the current location to one downstream at Tree Island, which Richmond opposes, as well as one at Sapperton Bar.

Options for the bridge itself range from no bridge, to a bridge from two to eight lanes, and even a tunnel.

The B.C. Trucking Association would prefer an eight-lane crossing, said president Louise Yako. She would like Pattullo fixed “as quickly as possible.”

“Trucks are a reflection of jobs on wheels,” said Yako. “It’s the economy moving. It is in all our best interests that we have reliable and safe truck movements.”

While residents have to register for the small-group bridge consultations similar to Tuesday’s, the first Pattullo public open house goes Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Sapperton Pensioners Hall, 318 Keary St. in New West.


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