Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pattullo Bridge Consultation Update

In June, TransLink along with New Westminster and Surrey pushed the reset button and relaunched the public consultation process for the potential replacement of the Pattullo Bridge. As I posted about in June, the original plan was for a 6-lane replacement bridge to feed into the now cancelled North Fraser Perimeter Road. Without the North Fraser Perimeter Road and with the objection from New Westminster about building a bridge with so many lanes that would funnel traffic through the heart of that community, the assumptions about the bridge had to be reevaluated.

Close to 4,000 people participated in the consultation process. Traditional consultation as well as regional polling was conducted to get a more complete picture of people’s views about the potential bridge replacement. Not surprising, the major of people in Metro Vancouver and in the consultation agreed that something should be done about the Pattullo Bridge. Also, the majority of people in Metro Vancouver and in the consultation agreed that we should be shifting travel mode to walking, cycling, and transit, minimize single-occupancy vehicle usage, and general work towards building a livable region.

Things got a bit interesting when it came to bridge replacement options. People’s opinions were split on what should be done about the Pattullo Bridge. Consultation participants and New Westminster residents generally supported building a new 4-lane Surrey-Coquitlam bridge with a 2- or 3-lane rehabilitated Pattullo Bridge. North Surrey and the rest of Metro Vancouver had more support for building a new 6-lane bridge at the existing location. There was also some support to replace the Pattullo with a new 4-lane bridge at the same site.

One interesting observation is that generally people don’t want traffic following through their neighbourhoods, but are happy to dump traffic into someone else’s neighbourhoods. If the new 4-lane Surrey-Coquitlam bridge ever moves forward, combined with the new Port Mann Bridge, there will be 8-lane of traffic just for Surrey-Coquitlam traffic. I have to wonder if that supports the goals of reducing single-occupancy vehicle usage and encourages the creation of a livable region.

The potential replacement Pattullo Bridge, South Fraser Perimeter Road, and other proposed new road infrastructure in the region is primarily meant to support goods movement and Port Metro Vancouver. With this in mind, it was interesting to see that the need to limit or ban commercial/truck traffic from Pattullo Bridge was one of the top three recurring themes from consultation participant when asked for additional feedback. In the feedback received, people believed that truck traffic is what cases congestion. In reality, everyone who drives on the road (and the majority are in single-occupancy vehicles) causes congestion.

To my point about people not wanted traffic in their neighbourhoods, the top concern from the additional feedback received was about increased traffic in neighbourhoods and vehicles ‘rat-running’ through residential areas.

Other themes from the additional feedback was support for equitable tolling throughout the region which is likely why one of the other themes was a desired to see no tolling on the Pattullo Bridge replacement.

Looking at the results of the consultation, TransLink, Surrey, and New Westminster have their work cut-out for them as there is a diversity of opinions about replacement options. Of course the big question will be how the new bridge(s) will be funded.

For more detail information, I suggest you read the full consultation summary report.

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