BC Government announces construction of a new Pattullo Bridge

Feb 17 2018, 1:03 am

Saying it’s time to build a “safe, reliable crossing for thousands of daily commuters,” Premier John Horgan announced that the BC government is moving forward with the construction of a $1.377-billion replacement of the aging Pattullo Bridge.

“This is an essential transportation link that British Columbians rely on, and it’s our job to make sure it’s safe and gets people moving better,” Horgan said.

While the current Pattullo Bridge falls under TransLink jurisdiction, The Pattullo Bridge replacement project will be delivered, owned, and operated solely by the BC Government.

Patullo bridge

The existing Patullo Bridge. (Shutterstock)

“By stepping up to own and deliver a new Pattullo Bridge, our government is making sure all people who use the bridge can benefit from a safer crossing and easier connections into New Westminster and Surrey, whether by walking, driving or cycling,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Money for the project will come from the government’s existing $14.6 billion three-year capital plan, Horgan said.

“We’re working in partnership with Metro Vancouver mayors to deliver on the things that matter to people,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “By taking ownership and leadership over the Pattullo Bridge, we’re solving one of the region’s biggest transportation problems.”

Rendering of Pattullo Bridge replacement (Government of BC)

Four lanes, with walking and cycling

The project includes a new Pattullo Bridge that will be located upstream of the existing one, network connections in Surrey and New Westminster, and the removal of the existing bridge.

The new bridge will be four lanes that will be built to modern safety standards, featuring a centre safety median barrier and wider lanes to accommodate both passenger and commercial vehicles.

The bridge will also have walking and cycling lanes, separated from traffic, on both sides of the bridge.

The government also said that connections onto and off of the new bridge will be smoother as well.

This includes direct road connections between the bridge and East Columbia Street in New Westminster, and a new direct off-ramp from the bridge to westbound Highway 17 in Surrey.

The Province will proceed with the request for qualifications (RFQ) phase of a competitive procurement process later this spring, followed by the request for proposal (RFP) phase, with start of construction in summer 2019.

Bridge life-span has been exceeded

Opened in 1937, the Pattullo Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in Metro Vancouver. The bridge was designed for a 50-year life, which has been exceeded by 30 years.

A 2016 report sent to TransLink’s Board of Directors stated that the existing bridge would need to be closed by 2024 at the very latest given its rate of deterioration.

Not only is the bridge not expected to survive a modest earthquake, it could also collapse during a windstorm, according to the report.

View of the existing Pattullo Bridge deck. (Google Maps Streetview)

“The Pattullo Bridge was not designed to meet current wind and seismic loading standards, and as a result, may be vulnerable in terms of withstanding a seismic or high wind event,” reads the report.

Issues with the structure include weakening steel, crumbling concrete, river wave action eroding foundations, and piers that do not protect the structure from potential ship impacts.

As well, the bridge deck is too narrow with unsafe curvatures, making it a hot spot for collisions.

TransLink completed a modest $25-million rehabilitation of the bridge deck in 2016, but even with the upgrades the bridge’s capacity is reduced to two lanes during the overnight hours for safety reasons.

The new bridge will be open to traffic in 2023.

With files from Kenneth Chan

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