Surrey and New Westminster are two cities directly affected by TransLink’s plans for the Pattullo Bridge.
Currently, these plans largely reflect Surrey’s preference to replace the existing four-lane bridge with a new six-lane bridge. I am wondering, however, what is the real objective of Surrey – a huge bridge or a fast, efficient transportation network? And, in the case of the latter, is a six-lane bridge the only solution?
Extensive research done in New Westminster shows that a new six-lane Pattullo Bridge is not the only solution and not a correct solution for Surrey’s transportation needs. Currently, cars and trucks are often stuck in traffic for two to three blocks on the streets of New Westminster before reaching north end of the four-lane Pattullo Bridge. With a new six-lane bridge, the traffic jams will extend to five to six blocks, but the actual number of cars going over the bridge to Surrey will not increase by much.
Besides being of little help for Surrey, a six-lane Pattullo has the potential to have a devastating effect on livability conditions for a great number of people in New Westminster. Let me put this situation in perspective. How many Surrey residents live between the Pattullo Bridge and 120 Street in Surrey? Very few, because this is predominately an industrial, commercial area in Surrey.
But in a similar area of New Westminster, you will find thousands of residents, schools, medical offices, places of worship, homes, condominiums and apartment buildings located right on the streets where hundreds of thousands (yes, that many) vehicles will congest local traffic, idle and pollute if TransLink builds the proposed six-lane Pattullo Bridge.
Fortunately, better solutions are possible for both cities. Again, research done by New Westminster discovered these possibilities:
• Properly connect South Fraser Perimeter Road to Highway 1;
• Improve entry points to increase capacity of the Queensborough Bridge;
• Build a new bridge to connect Surrey with United Boulevard in Coquitlam.
In addition, another bridge between the existing Queensborough and Knight Street bridges is needed for a regional road network. These improvements will effectively resolve Surrey’s transportation issues without destroying livability in New Westminster.