I received an email the other day about the Pattullo Bridge replacement project that TransLink is working on. It seems that this is one of the few major projects that TransLink is still able to work on in light of the recent news around lack of funding for transit.
The Pattullo Bridge was opened in 1937 and has a laundry list of deficiencies including:
-Pedestrians and cyclist are unprotected
-High accident rate
-Corrosion and deterioration
-Design leaves bridge vulnerable to ship impact
-Vulnerable to collapse even under moderate earthquake
-Experiencing foundation issues cause by river scouring
TransLink is proposing to replace the current bridge with a 6-lane bridge for a cost of about 800 million to 1 billion dollars. To put that into context, that kind of money would be able to build rapid transit along King George Highway, 104th Avenue, and Fraser Highway! With this bridge about to fall into the water, it certainly needs to be replaced, but how should we pay for it?
While a small vocal minority are opposed to any tolling, the reality is that tolling is the most reasonable way to get the bridge built. I’d ague that tolling is the only way the bridge should be built. I know there are some politicians that think the bridge should be built without a toll, but I would challenge them to find 1 billion dollars within TransLink’s current budget. I would much rather have them find 1 billion dollars to pay for rapid transit in the South of Fraser that would handle more people and build a more sustainable region (which the bridge will not.)
According to TransLink there is support for tolling, but people also want to see a regional tolling strategy. I was on the CBC’s the Early Edition a month ago talking about replacement options for the George Massey tunnel and the host of the program assumed that everyone would be against tolling. He asked a trucker on the program what he thought of tolling, the trucker said he supported tolling because a.) it will pay for new infrastructure and b.) manage travel demand.
TransLink has slated to start construction on the Pattullo Bridge in 2015 with an opening ceremony in 2018.