TransLink recently presented an update on the Pattullo Bridge replacement to the City’s Transportation Committee. According to the report, the new bridge will be built north of the existing crossing, will be paid for through tolls, and connect to the under construction South Fraser Perimeter Road only on it’s west side. Apparently, most of the work on the project involves reconfiguration of the bridge and its road network in New Westminster, rather than in Surrey. The Pattullo is one of the oldest bridges in the region and has been the site of numerous accidents and deaths due to its narrow, pre-highway standard, lanes.
The City has resolved to support the Pattullo replacement project, so long as it includes:
- full connectivity to the SFPR
- Reconfiguration of the Scott Road/King George interchange to optimize traffic flow and free up developable lands
- Modify the 128th St and King George intersection as required to suit projected volumes, as well as the completion of 128th St between 104 Ave and King George
- Commitment to equity in regional tolling for the affected municipalities
If the bridge is introduced with tolls, it will be the third of all major Fraser River crossings near or in Surrey to face tolling. The recently completed Golden Ears Bridge, also a TransLink project, is tolled, and the Port Mann bridge replacement who’s construction is currently underway, is scheduled to open in 2013 with tolls.
The provincial government has maintained that all new crossings would be paid for through tolls, so long as an untolled alternative was available nearby for the public. However, while the Port Mann, Alex Fraser, and Massey Tunnel are provincial highways, both the Golden Ears and Pattullo bridges are owned and maintained by TransLink.
If the Pattullo is rebuilt as a tolled bridge, an interesting policy overlap will emerge, as the closest untolled option in Surrey would be the Alex Fraser in Delta and could alter traffic patterns significantly, depending on how many people wish to avoid paying to cross the river. Additionally, a financial burden will emerge onto residents of the South Fraser region, as they disproportionately pay more to move about the region, while residents in the North Shore or Richmond do not face tolls.
Hence why the City is quietly calling for a regional tolling strategy to ensure equity amongst municipalities in the region. We’ll see what happens.