Monday, June 10, 2013

The new, new Pattullo Bridge Consultation

Trying to figure out what to do with the aging Pattullo Bridge has been on TransLink's agenda since the agency took over control of the structure almost 14 years ago. Back in 2008, TransLink started to seriously consider replacing the bridge and commissioned the firm Delcan to study replacement options for the Pattullo. The recommendation from Delcan in 2010 was to replace the bridge with a new 6-lane facility immediately upstream from the current one.

In 2010, TransLink was still planning to build the North Fraser Perimeter Road through New Westminster which would have resulted in a four-lane corridor from the Queensborough Bridge through Untied Boulevard to the Pitt River Bridge. In 2011, New Westminster opposed the North Fraser Perimeter Road and it was effectively cancelled. This called into question the need for a 6-lane Pattullo Bridge.

The since cancelled North Fraser Perimeter Road. Click image to enlarge.

TransLink still continued to pursue the 6-lane replacement option for the Pattullo, but as time went on, it became increasing clear that the City of New Westminster was not interesting in a 6-lane bridge and the associated traffic that it would bring to the community. This caused TransLink to push the reset button on the whole Pattullo Bridge replacement project. TransLink is now working with the City of New Westminster and Surrey to evaluate replacement options for the Pattullo.

TransLink, New Westminster, and Surrey have launched a new consultation website and are holding open houses and small group meetings through the month of June. They have also posted consultation material online and are accepting online feedback until June 28th.

On the table now are rehabilitating the Pattullo Bridge as a 3 or 4 lane facility for a cost of $330 million to $400 million; replacing the Pattullo Bridge with a new 4 to 6 lane facility for a cost of $820 million to $1.1 billion; or build a new 4-lane Surrey/Coquitlam Bridge and rehabilitate the Pattullo Bridge as 2 or 3-lane facility for a cost of $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion.

One of the good things about this new consultation is that the evaluation criteria includes looking at how the proposed rehabilitation and/or replacement options will move the region towards the goal of having more trip by walking, cycling, and transit while minimize single occupant vehicles and vehicle kilometres travelled. Unlike Provincial projects which tend to ignore induced demand from expanding road facilities which increase congestion and pollution, the new Pattullo consultation recognizes that additional lane “may increase vehicle travel and emissions in the long term [and] additional lanes may encourage auto-oriented development.”

The location for a proposed 4-lane Surrey/Coquitlam Bridge.

One of the more interesting options is to build a new 4-lane Surrey/Coquitlam Bridge combined with a rehabilitated Pattullo Bridge. I have to wonder if this recommendation is a result of New Westminster effectively cancelling the North Fraser Perimeter Road. It looks like the new bridge would shunt truck traffic from United Boulevard to the South Fraser Perimeter Road, providing the trucking link that the NFPR was supposed to do.

I think that the Pattullo Bridge should be replaced with a new 4-lane facility as it would meet the safety goals of replacing a bridge that is near the end of its useful life.

The consultation process will continue into 2014. It is expected that a preferred alternative will be select in the winter of 2014.


Blair said...

So Nathan, any suggestions why Langley is not at the table on this one? The Pattullo is our "reasonable untolled alternative" for the Golden Ears and Port Mann?

Nathan Pachal said...

Likely because the bridge is between Surrey and New West, and TransLink doesn't care about the province's tolling policy