TransLink studied three corridor zones for the potential location of a replacement of the Pattullo Bridge.

Pattullo Bridge replacement options all come with tolls

New crossing could offer more direct Surrey-Coquitlam link.

A new Surrey-Coquitlam bridge bypassing New Westminster is one of six recommended options TransLink has unveiled to replace the aging Pattullo Bridge that could profoundly change traffic patterns.

The findings of the joint review by TransLink with the the cities of Surrey and New Westminster were released Monday as part of a new round of public consultation this month.

And no matter which option is chosen, the review of them suggests the replacement span will be tolled.

“Costs of $1 billion would be recoverable through user fees,” the report says, while adding a crossing costing more than that would need senior government contributions as well.

The most unusual option studied was a possible new four-lane Tree Island crossing well downstream of the Queensborough Bridge.

It would have offered a more direct Delta-Burnaby connection that would have taken traffic from the Alex Fraser Bridge in a near straight line over the Fraser’s north arm, instead of splitting either left to Richmond or right to Queensborough.

But the screening review found it wouldn’t serve the existing Surrey-New Westminster traffic and Burnaby and Richmond fear more agricultural and industrial land would be lost.

It would act more as an alternative to the Queensborough Bridge than the Pattullo, the review said, but most motorists won’t pay the tolls to cover the $825-million cost of a bridge there if the Queensborough is free.

Two of them don’t call for a new bridge at all, but rehabilitating the existing Pattullo  for safer three- or four-lane use at a cost of $330 to $400 million, still funded by tolls.

Both would improve seismic and structural safety but risks of head-on crashes would continue as there’d be no median barrier either in the three-lane counterflow or four-lane configuration.

An all-new bridge near the existing one – either four, five or six lanes – would better resist a moderate quake, river scour or ship collision, all of which could knock the existing 75-year-old span out of service.

Those three options range from $820 million for four lanes to $1.1 billion for six. An eight-lane option was ruled out as attracting too much traffic and running counter to goals to move more people by cycling, walking and transit.

The five- and six-lane options may spur more auto-oriented development than four lanes, it said.

A last option recommended for more study offers a new four-lane Surrey-Coquitlam bridge, while also rehabilitating the old Pattullo for two- or three-lane use.

That would cost an estimated $1.4 to $1.5 billion, running from King George Boulevard through Surrey’s Bridgeview neighbourhood across to Braid Street and Highway 1’s Brunette interchange.

It lets traffic bypass New Westminster, going the farthest to address concern there about worsening congestion.

“Travel times and reliability would improve for most users,” the report said. “Goods movement would likely benefit overall, given more direct connections to Highway 1, United Boulevard and the northeast sector.”

The TransLink-led review recommends against simply dismantling the current bridge or converting it to either a two-lane bridge or one for cyclists and pedestrians only. Doing so would cause much heavier truck congestion at other crossings, it said.

Also panned were four-lane tunnel scenarios on the existing route ($2.9 to $4.8 billion) and four or six-lane bridge options at Sapperton Bar ($1.7 billion to $3.1 billion.)

Spokesperson Patricia MacNeil said the issue of tolling isn’t yet settled and TransLink wants public feedback on all studied options, not just the recommended ones, to see if “we are on the right track.”

Public open houses are set for June 6, 11 and 15 in New Westminster and June 8, 12, and 13 in Surrey, with additional small group meetings also scheduled in both cities. For more details see pattullobridgereview.ca.

Pattullo Bridge Review Discussion Guide June 2013 by Jeff Nagel

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