Need to replace Pattullo Bridge runs deep, TransLink warns ahead of weekend closure

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Image via Jonathon Brown.

The design for the new Pattullo Bridge is set and construction is ready to go.

That from TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond (pictured below), who gave media a tour of the current bridge ahead of it’s weekend shutdown for maintenance tonight at 9pm.

Though a new bridge is in the works, a plan on how to pay for it is still in the draft stages.

Desmond says the plan was to have the bridge to have a toll, but the New Democrats campaigned, and eventually won, on a platform of no-tolls on lower mainland bridges.

Image via Jonathon Brown.

“Clearly the tolling policy that was part of the NDP’s campaign, it affects how we finance the bridge, that’s why it’s all the more urgent to have that conversation,” he says. “I’m confident that the new government understands the urgency of this project.”

Desmond wants to start negotiating with the new provincial government by next week on financing a new bridge.

He wants to have that done by September, get a construction crew on board by October, then have a new bridge in place by 2023.

How tight is that timeline?

“That timeline is very tight,” Desmond admits. “Hence the urgency.”

Image via Jonathon Brown.

“I don’t believe it’s unrealistic, TransLink and the mayors have been talking about this project for a long time, what’s new about it is that we’ve got almost all of the work done, in terms of the design of the new bridge, the design of the approaches, working on the environment assessments,” Desmond adds. “I am confident that we can get this done.”

TransLink’s 10-year plan to overhaul transit across Metro Vancouver calls for a replacement of the bridge, which has seen a lot more traffic once the Port Mann Bridge became tolled.

The need to replace the Pattullo Bridge runs deep.

That from TransLink’s Construction Manager Bob Moore, who says crews will be working on a part of the bridge that wasn’t upgraded last summer.

“We’re also going to take care of some other structural issues, some of the pedestrian railings are going to be repaired, re-welded, some of the luminaries, the lighting on the bridge, the posts they sit on have to be replaced because they’ve rusted out,” he explains.

Further up the bridge, Moore says one of the Pattullo’s biggest threats is the Fraser River.

The bridge crosses the river’s narrowest, most turbulent point.

“It’s very fast-flowing, it’s very constrained, there’s always a possibility of a pier being undermined by fast-flowing water,” he continues.

Image via Jonathon Brown.

Moore adds that the bridge is surveyed twice a year, though the rocks protecting the Pattullo’s main piers are always moving and the riverbed can vary in depth by 6 metres or 20 feet.

TransLink’s current plan calls for a replacement for the bridge by 2023.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner (pictured below) also took the tour and says the Pattullo is 30 years past it’s best before date. She had wanted to get the bridge replaced by 2020 or would shut the crossing into her city down, but she seems to have accepted it could take three more years than that.

Image via Jonathon Brown.

Hepner also took a bit of a tumble on her tour.

With a band-aid firmly on her head, Linda Hepner says she came out just fine.

“I was looking at the bridge itself and not paying attention to my footing and I caught it on one of the joints of the bridge and just took a tumble, luckily toward the rail and not toward the traffic,” she explains.

Hepner says walking across the bridge for the first time reaffirmed her belief that it needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

“I was really paying attention to the deteriorating condition of the bridge,” she says.

The bridge will reopen Monday at 5 am.