Something needs to be done about the Pattullo Bridge. Constructed in the 1930′s, it was the first “modern” road bridge to cross the Fraser River (the first being the New Westminster Bridge which had a lower rail deck and upper vehicle deck). The Pattullo Bridge which, according to the Province at the time had “ample accommodation for four lanes of motor traffic” and was built to handle “all future requirements of traffic loading” has outlived is usefulness due to traffic safety and structural issues. There have been many ideas for dealing with the Pattullo ranging from tearing it down with no replacement, to rehabilitating the bridge with three-lanes, to constructing a 4-6 lane replacement nearby, and even to building completely different crossings further away. To me there are only two options: building a new 4-lane bridge nearby for an estimated cost of $538m to $552m, or building a new 6-lane bridge nearby for an estimated cost of $727m – $778m. To TransLink there appears to be only one option, build a new 6-lane bridge.
Adding an additional 2-lanes to the bridge is meant to handle traffic from the South Fraser Perimeter Road Freeway (SFPR) heading towards Columbia Street as part of the proposed North Fraser Perimeter Road (NFPR) and Stormont McBride Connector which has been on the books for decades.
Proposed North Fraser Perimeter Road in Blue, Stormont McBride Connector in Red
The major issue is that citizens of New Westminster, rightfully so, do not want more regional traffic choking their community and basically killed both road projects. While technically the NFPR and Connector are “on-hold,” the projects are not funded and are likely to be removed from New Westminster’s new Master Transportation Plan.
There is strong agreement with the City’s policy of working toward no new added capacity for through vehicle traffic in New Westminster
With no NFPR and no Stormont McBride Connector, the additional 2-lanes would only serve as holding lanes for the congestion that already exists on the New Westminster side of the bridge today. I don’t know about you, but spending up to an additional $240m to move the congestion from Surrey to the bridge deck seems like a big waste of money. (I should point out that TransLink’s cost-benefit analysis which supports the 6-lane option is based on the completion of the NFPR.) And while tolls will be the only way this bridge will get built, it will likely be subsidized just like the Golden Ears Bridge is today at the cost of improving transit.
In Surrey, Scott Road, King George Boulevard, and the SFPR will converge at the Pattullo Bridge. Adding two additional lanes would make sense only if there was added capacity on the New Westminster side of the bridge. As this is not likely to happen, the two-additional lanes would do nothing to benefit citizens of Surrey. In fact even if New Westminster decided to allow more vehicle traffic through their community, it would mainly benefit regional truck traffic which is expected to grow by 114% by 2040. Also with King George Boulevard slated to get some form of rapid-transit, I have to question why TransLink is promoting single-occupancy vehicle usage anyway.
Proposed 6-lane alignment for Pattullo Bridge
A 6-lane Pattullo Bridge only makes sense with a NFPR and Stormont McBride Connector. Citizens of New Westminster are trying to build a sustainable community with walking, cycling, and transit as a priority and no longer support adding more vehicle capacity through their community. With this in mind, the 4-lane replacement bridge is the only option that makes sense to me. The Lions Gate Bridge is the perfect example of a bridge that was essentially replaced, but with the same capacity as before. While some claimed the world would come to an end without an expanded bridge, everything worked out just fine.