New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright said if Coquitlam and Surrey want a six-lane replacement for the Pattullo Bridge, they can have it – on their own turf.
Some Surrey councillors have been pushing for a six-lane replacement for the Pattullo Bridge, an option also supported by the City of Coquitlam. On Monday, Coquitlam city council endorsed a plan calling for a new six-lane, tolled bridge between New Westminster and Surrey, with two of those lanes initially being designated as HOV.
Wright was disappointed to learn of Coquitlam's position about the Pattullo Bridge.
"I think it's a lot better that we connect them with Surrey – they both want a six-lane bridge. That's probably what they should do," he told The Record. "They should go from Surrey to Coquitlam. They both want six lanes."
TransLink worked with New Westminster and Surrey to develop 25 options for the public's consideration. Those options were narrowed down to six alternatives meriting further evaluation, which include:
- rehabilitating the existing Pattullo Bridge to three or four lanes;
- building a new four-, five- or six-lane bridge at the existing crossing; and
- building a new four-lane Surrey to Coquitlam Bridge (with a two- or three-lane rehabilitation to the existing Pattullo Bridge).
"They can do that now. They can both have it and it fits and it works," Wright said of the Surrey to Coquitlam crossing. "It will cost them the same amount of money as trying to bring the cars into New Westminster, but it puts them back on Highway 1 where they should be."
Members of New Westminster city council have been visiting councils in Metro Vancouver to pitch the city's support of a four-lane tolled bridge to replace the existing Pattullo Bridge. In addition to a new four-lane Pattullo Bridge, New Westminster also supports a new four-lane bridge between Surrey and Coquitlam, combined with a two- or three-lane rehabilitation of the Pattullo Bridge.
"There is no room unless they took out housing, unless they took out the park, unless they took out part of Victoria Hill, which is not acceptable," Wright said of a six-lane crossing. "There is no way possible for us to take those big ramp-type things. We want the same type of access and egress as we have now. I don't think anybody is going to force that down our throat."
Coquitlam staff had recommended the city inform TransLink that it supports consideration of a new four-lane or six-lane Pattullo Bridge, but council amended the motion to support the six-lane option. The report stated that the six-lane option in the existing corridor (tolled or otherwise) yields the least impact on traffic volumes on streets in southwest Coquitlam.
"I don't know that anybody will agree with the idea that we're going to take a four-lane bridge that's been there for decades - and has needed replacement for a couple of decades - and replace (it) with four lanes and toll it," Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said.
Some members of Coquitlam city council felt building a six-lane bridge in today's dollars makes more sense than having to retrofit or improve the bridge in the future. The replacement bridge is being built to accommodate an 80-to 100-year lifespan.
"To build it to 2045 standards really limits your investment in the dollars spent if you go to a four-lane bridge," said Coquitlam councillor Brent Asmundson. "It doesn't make economic sense."
The City of Coquitlam's staff report states that the Surrey to Coquitlam alternative has advantages such as improving access to employment areas in southwest Coquitlam and north Surrey, reducing traffic on the Pattullo Bridge by 20-35% (compared with the current four-lane bridge), but has disadvantage including being costlier, having environmental impacts on the Fraser River and significantly increasing traffic on streets in southwest Coquitlam including King Edward Street, the Brunette interchange and on the Brunette-Lougheed and Braid-United corridors.
The report noted it would also reduce daily traffic on the Port Mann Bridge by about 10%, which would reduce toll revenues to the province by about $10 million to $15 million.
Wright said it will cost considerably more to build a six-lane bridge than a four-lane bridge between Surrey and New Westminster, as the figures put forward at this time don't take into account the mitigation that would be required to address the impacts on New Westminster. He said a six-lane Pattullo Bridge goes against the region's attempt to get more people using more bicycles, walking, and taking SkyTrain.
"If they want people to go over that bridge and encouraging more drivers to drive, it doesn't make sense," he said. "All it will do is back up in New Westminster for a longer period of time."
-With files from the Tri-Cities NOW