SURREY – A month after members of Surrey council criticized the City of New Westminster for stalling on replacement plans for the Pattullo Bridge, the bridge has literally begun to fall apart.
Safety nets are in the process of being installed following reports that chunks of “debris” were falling from the aging span. According to TransLink, those nets will be installed in phases between now and April. In the meantime, said “debris” ended up being chunks of concrete falling from the underside of the bridge, something Surrey Coun. Tom Gill is saying is evidence enough that it’s time for a change.
“I think this is just another example of how people are not aware of how serious the issue is as to the current condition of the bridge,” said Gill, who also chairs Surrey’s transportation and infrastructure committee. “We are running out of time to make a decision of needing a new bridge. I’ve been very clear in my comments that this silly filibustering from New Westminster has caused us to get to a point where we are today – the irony is that we’re dealing with this exact conversation from a month ago. The bridge is slowly falling apart.”
Gill said any other structure that would suddenly begin to crumble would be immediately torn down and replaced, but not so for a bridge.
“Can you imagine any structure having concrete portions that can fall out at any given time? Never mind who might get hurt underneath the bridge, but can you can imagine what might be running through your mind if you have to actually use the bridge?” he said.
As such, Gill is calling on TransLink to come out and state that this bridge does in fact need replacing instead of a simple refurbishment.
“We’ve been advocating that there’s a lot of information TransLink needs to demonstrate to the community,” said Gill. “We are not in a third world country, we are and do have standards in this world we live in and we expect our politicians and leaders to make good decisions and keep our communities safe and this is just another blatant example of someone not being able to do their job and not understand the very real issues this bridge faces.”
A replacement six-lane bridge is expected to cost around $1 billion while a refurbished bridge would cost $300 million. A brand new four-lane bridge is estimated to cost around $800 million.The City of New Westminster has previously come out against putting in a six-lane bridge due to the traffic pressures on their side of the bridge.
“The issue now is that with no decision being made, we’re going to have to invest $300 million into a bridge that doesn’t need a $300-million investment,” said Gill. “We need to build a brand new one. Lets be respectful of the taxpayer dollars whether it’s TransLink
or anybody else.”
As for the current state of the Pattullo, TransLink has said they will be monitoring the situation as it unfolds, but notes the longterm plan still needs to be addressed. “The bridge remains safe and TransLink continues to actively inspect, monitor and maintain the bridge in a state of good repair,” said a TransLink release regarding the nets. “This maintenance work will help ensure safety and the longevity of the bridge – it will not address other structural issues such as narrow lanes, need for barriers to protect pedestrians and cyclists, or seismic concerns.”