Building a bridge connecting Surrey to Coquitlam could make a big difference in addressing New Westminster’s transportation issues.
TransLink is going to the public this week to get feedback on 25 potential options for the Pattullo Bridge. Only six of them, however, have been recommended for further consideration from a review committee consisting of staff representatives from TransLink and the cities of New West and Surrey.
Two ‘recommended’ options involve rehabilitating the bridge to carry three or four lanes, while three involve a four-, five- or six-lane replacement. The other being cited as a possibility is building a new four-lane structure connecting Surrey’s Bridgeview area to Coquitlam’s United Boulevard in tandem with rehabilitating the Pattullo to carry two or three lanes of traffic.
Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said it’s an option that would funnel truck traffic directly to where most of it is headed—Highway 1 and the northeast sector—reducing congestion on New Westminster streets.
“It’s a good option,” said Puchmayr. “We’ve identified that before. When that option was taken off the table [by TransLink] we asked, ‘where is it?’ … Now this is back on the table.”
While rehabilitation of the bridge is projected to cost from $330 million to $400 million, and the replacement options $820 million to $1.18 billion, the Surrey-Coquitlam connection and rehabbing the Pattullo is estimated to cost $1.4 to $1.5 billion.
“The dollar signs are pretty high but not so high that it’s eliminated yet,” said Coun. Betty McIntosh. “It’s the type of solution where someone would say, ‘ohhh this would be wonderful. It would quieten the area around Queen’s Park, and be good for [Braid Industrial Park.’]”
While McIntosh pointed out Port Metro Vancouver and surrounding businesses would have to be included in such a solution, Eugene Wat, New Westminster’s manager of infrastructure planning noted so would the City of Coquitlam and the Ministry of Transportation.
“A whole slew of other stakeholders would have to be involved,” said Wat.
McIntosh said she was glad TransLink was presenting so many options in concert with the affected communities.
“We’re feeling a little bit more included, that TransLink didn’t do a consultation that would make everybody mad. They didn’t want a repeat of the United Boulevard Extension,” said McIntosh referring to TransLink backing off the project two years ago because of opposition from New Westminster.
She also said at least TransLink is willing to look this time at rehabilitation of the bridge instead of only proposing replacement options like it did last year.
“They at one time weren’t even considering rehabbing, it was off the table. If you can do it for half the price [why not consider it],” said McIntosh.
The review is also presenting four unrecommended tunnel options with preliminary cost estimates ranging from $2.9 to $4.8 billion, but none were recommended due to “the sheer cost of building it,” said Wat.
Three more options look at a Tree Island bridge connection between Burnaby and Richmond, but a major reason it wasn’t recommended was tolls would likely be needed and it would be too close to a “free option” in the Queensborough Bridge.
TransLink senior project manager Darren Woodworth said how to pay for the project hasn’t been decided.
“We first have to identify what we’re going to build and then determine how to fund this,” said Woodworth. “This is just the start of the process.”
Feedback forms can be filled out at www.pattullobridgereview.ca. Open houses will also be held at Sapperton Pensioners Hall, 318 Keary St., Thursday, 5 to 8 p.m., and at the Inn at the Quay on Tuesday, June 11, 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, June 15, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.