Business forum tackles Pattullo Bridge replacement
Municipal and transit officials weighed in on plans to replace the aging Pattullo Bridge at a business forum in New Westminster today (May 24).
TransLink wants to tear down the bridge, built in 1937, and erect a new six-lane replacement linking Surrey and New Westminster.
The project, which could be completed by 2018, has an estimated cost of up to $1 billion, according to TransLink.
Around 60,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day, a TransLink official told the crowd of business people and local politicians at the forum.
“It’s an important corridor for the movement of people, connecting the region, and for trade and the movement of goods,” said Sany Zein, director of roads for TransLink.
Zein said problems with the Pattullo Bridge include increasing maintenance costs, a lack of road-safety features, and the inability to withstand an earthquake.
“It’s a bridge which has served its purpose. Fifty years was the design life; we’ve squeezed 75 years out of it,” he said.
TransLink owns and operates the Pattullo Bridge.
Today’s forum was co-hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade and the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce.
The 60-plus people who attended also heard from the City of Surrey, the City of New Westminster, and the Lower Mainland Chambers’ Transportation Panel.
Paul Lee, Surrey’s rapid transit manager, said the replacement bridge must connect to commercial truck routes south of the Fraser to aid goods movement.
“From Surrey’s point of view, this bridge is essential…and a well-connected bridge is critical to economic development of the city,” Lee said.
He also said the city’s transportation committee supports a six-lane bridge that includes good facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.
“Surrey recognizes that a well-functioned, multimodal bridge is absolutely critical as an element in the transport infrastructure that is needed to serve one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada,” he said.
Jim Lowrie, New Westminster’s director of engineering, said his community is concerned about TransLink’s plan.
“Simply speaking, the road network in the city of New Westminster is not designed to accommodate the traffic that will be brought over by a six-lane bridge,” he said.
The City of New Westminster argues more options should have been presented to the public on the future of the Pattullo Bridge.
“There were other options studied but none of these options have been vetted publicly,” Lowrie said.
Bernie Magnan, with the Lower Mainland Chambers’ Transportation Panel, said the bridge is important to the region and must be replaced.
“It is used as a transportation link by many businesses located on both sides of the Fraser [River],” Magnan said.
TransLink still has to work out how the project will be designed, funded, and constructed.