Pattullo shutdown raises questions about bridge’s future

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The Pattullo Bridge is closed all weekend for repairs.

Your alternate options are the Queensborough Bridge, which is seeing a lot of traffic for a Saturday, the Alex Fraser, or Port Mann Bridge.

Image via DriveBC traffic cam.

The 80+-year old Pattullo has been seeing a lot more traffic as drivers avoid tolls on the Port Mann, so says Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner.

“I believe it has funnelled some traffic onto this bridge, I think Mr. [Kevin] Desmond could speak more to what the numbers look like, but clearly that is what I would suspect is happening, yes,” she says.

Desmond, TransLink’s CEO, agrees.

“The answer is yes, people in trucks, motorists, truck traffic did divert to the Pattullo Bridge, that adds to some of the wear-and-tear going forward.”

Desmond says a new Pattullo is ready to go, as Hepner had threatened to close the crossing over safety concerns.

However they haven’t worked out how to pay for a new bridge as the incoming New Democrat government is taking power with a “no tolls” platform.

Image via Jonathon Brown.

The plan still stands to replace the bridge by 2023, though budget figures show that since the Port Mann became a toll bridge, it has lost millions year-over-year as drivers turn their wheels toward other routes.

Desmond says if the project is delayed, it will be more likely that weekend bridge closures will continue, while lane closures could become more frequent than just one lane each way after 10pm.

As for the weekend work, TransLink’s Construction Manager Bob Moore says crews will work on structural issues, repairing and re-welding pedestrian railings and replacing lighting poles.

During a media tour, Moore stopped and pointed to a large hole in the sidewalk open to the river below.

Image via Jonathon Brown.

“When the sidewalk was cast in the 1930s, the rebar was probably too close to the surface, giving it no cover, that’s caused the concrete to fall off,” he explains. “We have the post here flagged either for repair or replacement, the railing system itself, ideally we would replace everything, but for a five year time span, it’s just not cost-effective to do that, you’d have to deal with the lead paint on it as well, which could potentially double the cost of replacement.”

The Pattullo is expected to open back up by 5am Monday in time for the morning rush.