A little inconvenience for weekend drivers will mean a little more life for the aging Pattullo Bridge.
The bridge was closed to all traffic, including cyclists and pedestrians from Friday at 9 p.m. to early Monday morning, so work crews could make repairs to the road surface. Similar closures will occur Aug. 9-12 and Aug. 23-26.
Bob Moore, the bridge operations manager for TransLink, said the repairs are the kind of routine maintenance that might cause lane closures on other bridges, but the narrowness of the 76-year-old Pattullo necessitate closure.
“We can’t do any of the repairs with traffic on the bridge,” said Moore during a tour of the site on Saturday. “It’s not safe.”
The repair work consists mostly of replacing sections of the deck where the asphalt road surface has separated from the concrete beneath it. The resulting potholes and cracks not only make for an uncomfortable drive, they can also lead to structural problems that could compromise the bridge if they’re not fixed, said Moore.
With barriers and flaggers diverting traffic away from the bridge, the four crews working 10-hour shifts around the clock identified problem areas by dragging a heavy chain along the roadway, listening for the higher-pitched sound that indicates delamination of the surface. Those areas were then jack-hammered, repaired with new concrete and resurfaced.
The northbound slow lane on the viaduct leading to the bridge on the Surrey side was particularly bad, said Moore. That’s likely from the volume of heavy vehicles that use the bridge he said.
The repairs are estimated to cost $250,000 and will keep the Pattullo in working condition for another two or three years. But with the process to determine the future of the Pattullo still ongoing, that’s money well spent, said Derek Zabel of Translink.
“This is part of the regular work that needs to be done,” said Zabel. “We’re still a considerable time away from a new bridge or rehabilitating this one.”
Meanwhile, crews are also working beneath the bridge, patching sections of the viaduct where concrete has broken away from rebar in one and two-foot chunks due to moisture and corrosion. That work is ongoing and isn’t affected by traffic passing overhead, but it must be completed to make it safe for the completion of the South Fraser Perimeter Road.