Closure causes major delays during daily commute
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
The Queensborough Bridge was forced to close October 25 following an overnight fire under the bridge, causing major traffic delays and power outages, along with forcing schools and businesses in the area to close.
The fire damaged a high voltage transmission line, causing power outages for approximately 8,000 people living and working in Queensborough Landing. The City of New Westminster was forced to close the Queensborough Bridge in both directions before the morning commute to assess the damage caused by the fire.
Sgt. Mike Garbutt of New Westminster Police, as reported by CBC, said officers were alerted to the issue patrolling the area around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning when they noticed smoke coming from underneath the bridge.
The bridge is a major connection during rush hour, so officials urged commuters to plan alternate routes to Queensborough Landing through Richmond or Delta. After finding no damage was caused to the bridge, northbound traffic across the bridge was opened around 1:40 p.m. with one southbound lane being reopened about an hour after that. Crews did not leave until they had fully reopened the second southbound lane at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
The City of New Westminster provided regular updates to residents through various social media platforms. They initially announced power would be restored to the area around 12 a.m. Thursday via Twitter. However, the city did not confirm resident’s power was back on until 5:20 a.m., meaning the area had been without power for about 27 hours.
During the extended period, the City also announced local businesses were offering free food to residents affected by the power outage. Starlight Casino, whose power was not affected, opened their buffet for three hours.
Tanya Gabara, of Gateway Casinos, spoke with CBC News to confirm how important it was to the business to help the community in whatever way they could.
“They are our neighbours. They’re the people that we talk to everyday,” she told CBC News.
Workers from the Salvation Army also set up a barbeque at the area’s local fire hall. The local Sikh outreach society, Sukh Sagar Sikh Gurdwara, provided free vegetarian food.