Premier John Horgan and two of his cabinet ministers will be in New Westminster on Friday morning to make an announcement related to the 80-year-old Pattullo Bridge.
TransLink, which owns and maintains the Pattullo, has plans to replace it because it has reached the end of its serviceable life. The structure, which opened in late 1937, was not designed to meet current wind and seismic standards and may be vulnerable during an earthquake or hurricane-level wind storm. Its lanes are also narrow and there is no centre median, making it dangerous for drivers and prone to head-on crashes.
TransLink has called the bridge its “most urgent major infrastructure risk,” and in this week’s throne speech the province called the Pattullo, which links Surrey and New Westminster, “a critical piece of infrastructure” and said, “the government is moving quickly to replace the Pattullo Bridge, to keep commuters safe and keep people moving.”
The new four-lane bridge will be located just north and upstream of the existing bridge. The will feature a centre median that separates traffic travelling in opposite directions and wider lanes that will increase capacity of the bridge by 10 per cent.
Numerous studies, plans and public consultation have been completed, and an environmental assessment is under way. Business cases were submitted to the province last fall and in January.
TransLink wants to have funding in place so that the project can go to tender this year and it can select a contractor by early 2019. Construction would take place from spring 2019 until the end of 2022, with the new bridge opening in 2023. At that time, the old bridge would be demolished.
If the bridge is not built by 2023, the old one will still have to be closed.
The province previously committed to paying 40 per cent of the capital costs of building the bridge. TransLink had planned to pay for up to two-thirds of the cost of the bridge using tolls, but the provincial government scrapped tolls in September, taking that option off the table.
When tolls were removed, TransLink officials said they would work with the province on financing the Pattullo project. During the election, the NDP said it would address the shortfall in revenues for the Pattullo.
Details of such a subsidy deal have not been revealed to date, nor has the total cost of the new bridge, which was estimated at about $1 billion in 2014.
More to come.