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Editorial — Pattullo Bridge repair budget far too rich a proposal
TransLink has revealed that it could spend up to $300 million on the Pattullo Bridge over the next three years.
This money will not be spent for a new bridge. It would be spent on repairs and seismic upgrading.
While TransLink has an obligation to maintain its facilities, this is a colossal waste of money. The Pattullo Bridge is not going to last for many more years. It needs to be replaced, and the big question now is where will that replacement money come from.
It makes sense to do only absolutely necessary repairs on the Pattullo, and they should come in at far less than $300 million. There is no reason to do seismic upgrades, if the bridge is to be replaced within the next decade.
Money spent to seismically upgrade a bridge that will be torn down is completely wasted. Most bridge users will be willing to take a chance on an earthquake, if a date is set and a commitment made to replace the bridge.
If TransLink has $300 million to spare, and at this time it doesn’t with no funding formula on the horizon, that money is best spent in three areas.
The first would obviously be on the minimal necessary repairs to keep the Pattullo operational.
The second would be as a down payment in a separate account, towards the replacement cost of the bridge.
The third would be on additional transit service south of the Fraser River, in Langley, Surrey and Delta. These areas are among the most under-serviced areas in the region served by TransLink.
The fact that TransLink is setting aside up to $300 million for the Pattullo is a key indicator of the importance of more long-range thinking on transportation in the Lower Mainland.
There needs to be much better co-operation between the province, TransLink and local governments. While a referendum on TransLink funding options has been proposed, as yet there are no details of what those options will be. At the same time, the province has announced a new river crossing where the Massey Tunnel now sits.
The province needs to consider the Pattullo replacement and other long-range projects at the same time.