Three-day farewell party proposed for old Pattullo Bridge before demolition
If one New Westminster city councillor has his way, there will be a sendoff party for the old Pattullo Bridge before its decommissioning and demolition next year.
In a member motion that will be considered during Monday evening’s meeting, councillor Daniel Fontaine of the New Westminster Progressives wants a three-day vehicle closure of the old bridge deck — on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — to properly bid farewell to the 1937-built bridge. One of these days would be designated as a day-long festival, with activations and programming.
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Such a party for the public to provide a “unique opportunity” to experience the bridge without vehicle traffic would be held before the opening of the new replacement bridge. Furthermore, the existing bridge is “an iconic part of the City of New Westminster’s history.”
If the motion is approved, the Mayor Patrick Johnston will write a letter on behalf of City Council to the BC Ministry of Transportation to determine the feasibility of closing the old bridge to vehicle traffic and opening it to pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-vehicular modes of transportation for the event.
Furthermore, City Council will discuss with the provincial government the idea of a “community-based celebration” by way of an “on-bridge” day-long street festival during the three-day public access period. Notably, the motion does not mention the need to discuss and collaborate with the City of Surrey.
The new replacement bridge — complete with four wider vehicle lanes, and a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists — is currently being built immediately to the east of the bridge, and it will be accessed using improvements to the existing road connections on the New Westminster and Surrey ends of the bridges. This new crossing is on target to open in 2024, and it remains within its $1.4 billion budget.
Construction is now quickly progressing on the bridge’s towers, which will reach an ultimate height of 167 metres (about 548 ft).
Over the years, the existing bridge has been deemed to be extremely unsafe not only for its road deck design but also for its poor structural condition, with the identified risk of collapsing in a moderately powerful earthquake or high wind storm.
Due to the severity of the structural issues, even though the existing bridge would remain in place for just a few more years, TransLink in 2020 installed an advance seismic and wind warning system that will provide alerts of up to one minute before damaging ground waves reach the bridge. This includes traffic control gates to stop vehicles from driving onto the bridge deck ahead of an earthquake’s shaking or during a powerful wind event.