Construction is finally about to begin on new $1.4-billion Pattullo Bridge

Feb 10 2020, 1:46 pm

The provincial government has confirmed that the project to replace the Pattullo Bridge is now within months of commencing construction.

In a press conference today, Premier John Horgan reaffirmed the plan to build the new bridge as an un-tolled crossing and formally announced that Fraser Crossing Partners — a joint partnership entailing Acciona Infrastructure Canada and Aecon Group Inc. — has been selected as the main construction contractor of the bridge.

As previously announced, the new bridge will be the largest provincially spearheaded project to date to be delivered under the provincial government’s Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), which mandates union wages and prioritizes employment for locals and diversity.

“The current bridge has needed to be replaced for years, and I’m proud our government is getting it done in a way that benefits the local community with good jobs and training opportunities,” he said. “This is all part of our work to keep people and goods moving as we build a strong, sustainable BC.”

Pattullo Bridge

Artistic rendering of the new four-lane Pattullo Bridge. (Government of BC)

Fraser Crossing Partners’ contract is worth $967.5 million, with the remainder of the $1.4-billion project budget covering other costs such as project management, financing, risk management, and property acquisition. It is expected extra costs will be incurred from the CBA’s mandates.

The new four-lane bridge will be constructed adjacent to the existing 1937-built, four-lane bridge. It has wider lanes, a concrete barrier median between lane directions, and separated pathways for pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge deck can eventually be expanded to six lanes.

There will also be some improved road connections at the ends of the bridge in New Westminster and Surrey.

A completion and opening is anticipated for Fall 2023, which is when the existing bridge will be decommissioned in preparation for its demolition.

pattullo bridge

Artistic rendering of the new Pattullo Bridge. (Fraser Crossing Partners)

The existing bridge has been prioritized for replacement given that it is rapidly deteriorating and vulnerable to structural failure from a moderately powerful earthquake, high winds, and ship strike. Its lane widths are also narrow, and the bridge deck geometry and condition do not allow for a concrete barrier between directions.

Advance seismic and wind warning and emergency bridge closure systems installed on the bridge by TransLink became operational last week. The public transit authority was previously responsible for delivering and funding the bridge replacement, but the provincial government took over the project in 2018 to allow TransLink to focus on its transit expansion initiatives.

Pattullo Bridge

The 1937-built Pattullo Bridge between New Westminster and Surrey. (Shutterstock)

In 2018, there were 61,000 average daily traffic volumes in the crossing — down from 69,000 in 2017, 73,000 in 2016, 77,000 in 2015, and 74,000 in 2014. Traffic volumes on this free crossing fell following the provincial government’s decision to remove tolls on the nearby Port Mann Bridge in September 2017.

By the middle of this year, the provincial government is also expected to announce the main contractor for the $2.8-billion extension of the Millennium Line to Arbutus Street. Construction for this SkyTrain project is slated to begin by the end of the year.