The Pattullo Bridge is slated to be replaced with a new four- or six-lane bridge by 2018.

Pattullo Bridge plan assumes six lanes, two for trucks

Public meetings begin on options for new tolled span between Surrey and New Westminster

TransLink aims to open a new and presumably tolled Pattullo Bridge by 2018 and it now wants public comment on design options.

The two-year consultation process getting underway is shaping up to be a tussle between Surrey and New Westminster over how big a bridge is needed.

Surrey’s mayor has demanded a six-lane bridge – which TransLink also leans toward – but many in New Westminster fear it would pour too much traffic into their already congested city, resulting in gridlock.

Some suggest the bridge be angled further northeast to it bypass New Westminster altogether and connect better to Coquitlam and Highway 1.

That option has been ruled out, TransLink roads director Sany Zein said, because Burnaby- or New West-bound traffic would have to detour too far, more roadwork would be needed and the river there is wider, doubling the bridge’s price.

He said TransLink’s base case calls for a six-lane bridge – four lanes for general purpose traffic and two reserved for trucks.

“We are building a structure that will serve the region for the next 100 years and we are looking at two growing cities on either shore,” Zein said. “We believe the growth is coming regardless.”

Trucks would stay in the outside goods movement priority lanes, which TransLink would connect to Major Road Network routes. Trucks would be discouraged from taking local streets.

TransLink rules out banning trucks from the bridge, saying it has a mandate to ensure goods movement through the region.

The new Pattullo would connect to King George Boulevard, Scott Road and the South Fraser Perimeter Road on the Surrey side, and Royal Avenue, McBride Boulevard and Columbia Street East on the New West side.

Once public input is in, TransLink would decide on a configuration and move to detailed design work and an environmental assessment, followed by a construction start in 2016.

If all goes well, Zein said, the bridge might open in late 2017, but added 2018 is the target.

The cost is estimated at $800 million to $1 billion, depending on connection options.

As for whether the new bridge will be tolled, Zein said tolls are a “backstop” and plenty of time remains to explore finance alternatives.

Asked how a new bridge can be designed without knowing whether it will be tolled or free – becoming a magnet for toll-dodging Highway 1 motorists – Zein said design modelling is being done on the basis the bridge is tolled, in absence of other funding.

“The region is getting used to the concept of tolls,” he added.

Only a handful of cyclists and pedestrians currently brave the narrow bridge each day, but the new bridge would offer a much wider sidewalk with connections to the B.C. Parkway and Central Valley Greenway.

There are no plans to build in capability to add light rail, Zein said, because SkyTrain crosses the river nearby.

Public workshops are set for New Westminster Tuesday Feb. 21 at the Centennial Community Centre, and Thursday Feb. 23 at the Inn at the Quay.

In Surrey, workshops run Wednesday, Feb. 22 and 27, both at Surrey’s City Centre Library (10350 University Dr.). All meetings start at 6:30 p.m. with an open house, followed by a 7 p.m. presentation and small group discussions.

Consultations were delayed for more than a year because the province decided to re-examine whether a cheaper four-lane replacement could be built without tolls.

Before that, TransLink spent years looking at whether the old, narrow bridge could be fixed to make it safer before scrapping that option.

See Pattullo Bridge Replacement page on TransLink’s website for more information and documents.