A new six-lane Pattullo Bridge where the old one now crosses the Fraser River is the public’s top choice out of the main bridge replacement options TransLink has put on the table.
But while that choice won out among Surrey and broader Metro Vancouver participants in consultations held in June, it was soundly opposed in New Westminster.
Instead, reflecting vocal resistance to heavy traffic rolling through their city, the top choice of New Westminster residents was a new four-lane bridge linking Surrey and Coquitlam, while rehabilitating the Pattullo for two- or three-lane use.
The consultation report by a joint review team consisting of TransLink and the cities of New Westminster and Surrey was released Monday.
Fifty eight per cent of North Surrey participants supported the six-lane replacement compared to just 36 per cent in New Westminster.
Conversely, 59 per cent in New West backed the $1.5-billion Surrey-Coquitlam option with Pattullo rehab, compared to 43 per cent in North Surrey.
Plenty in New Westminster (59 per cent) actually supported just a Surrey-Coquitlam link without replacing the Pattullo – cutting their city’s historic crossing of the river altogether.
But not rebuilding something where the Pattullo now stands isn’t an option, according to the review team, which says the bypass concept wouldn’t provide the strong road connection needed between Surrey and New Westminster called for in Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy.
Advocates of the idea said it could increase capacity while directing traffic away from New Westminster streets and allow for better separation of trucks and cars.
Only six of 25 alternatives originally studied are being advanced for more evaluation.
They include the six-, five- and four-lane replacements of the Pattullo at its current location; rehabilitating the old bridge for either four- or three-lane use; and the Surrey-Coquitlam four-lane bridge with two- or three-lane rehabbed Pattullo.
The five- and four-lane replacements as well as the rehab-only options got less public support.
The consultations consisted of workshops, open houses and polls that got 4,000 responses in one form or another.
The review team will consider the feedback, along with financial and technical information. A refined list of alternatives and further findings will be released later this year.
There’s broad agreement something must be done about the 76-year-old bridge, which TransLink warns could topple from a moderate earthquake, river erosion or a ship collision.
TransLink has assumed a new $1-billion crossing could be paid for with tolls.
But opposition to tolling a new Pattullo, as well as demands to make existing bridge tolls equitable across the region, came through loud and clear in the consultations.
“Some participants said that a regional toll or road pricing would be more equitable than tolling only bridges connected to Surrey,” the report said.
Other messages from the public included demands that trucks be banned from the Pattullo, at least at certain times of day, and that something be done about rat-running by commuters through residential neighbourhoods.
– with files from Grant Granger / New Westminster News Leader