New Westminster mayor hopes for new bridge instead
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
Plans for the Pattullo Bridge are being reconsidered after TransLink scraped their plans for a $100 million project that would upgrade the Pattullo Bridge to better handle seismic activity. The plan was scheduled to begin in April 2016.
“There was a pretty significant rehabilitation that was scheduled for next year that was going to be 18 months long, involve complete closures, have one lane in each direction for great periods of time. That plan has been revisited,” Mayor Jonathan Cote said to the New Westminster Record. “I think that is a real positive for New Westminster.”
The 78-year-old bridge is currently not equipped to withstand a moderate earthquake or a ship collision. River erosion may also pose problems to the structure of the bridge.
Instead of the upgrade, TransLink has now opted to perform only the minimal amount of repairs by spending $25 million to maintain the bridge over five months, hoping to put the other $75 million of the original budget towards building a new bridge.
The provincial government is in disagreement with TransLink’s decision regarding scrapping the bridge repairs, with Premier Christy Clark telling CBC, “The long-term plan is to get it fixed. I know it’s complicated and it’s expensive, but it needs to be done.”
Plans for a new bridge, which would have been completed within the decade, were released during the transit plebiscite campaigns earlier this year. The replacement bridge would remain at a wider four lanes, with the possibility of being expanded to six lanes. It would also have better accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists. However, the failure of the Mayors’ Council’s plan as a result of the “No” result of the plebiscite resulted in delays to the replacement bridge plan.
Presumably, the plan for the new bridge will remain similar. There is no current timeline for when the bridge, which is expected to reach costs of $1 billion, will be completed. One-third of the costs of replacing the bridge will be covered by the province.
“TransLink indicated that within two years’ time that they will have a final decision and a final plan, but New Westminster is actually going to try and advocate for speeding that up. Given that we already have the funding sources identified, we already have an agreement in terms of the size of the bridge from the Mayors’ Council, we actually think that within one year, if we put our minds to it, TransLink, Surrey, New Westminster, and the provincial government should be able to resolve this one and get this project moving forward,” Cote further explained to the New Westminster Record.