The Pattullo Bridge could face one to three years of work starting late next summer that will require frequent lane closures if not complete shutdowns at times.
TransLink vice-president of infrastructure management Fred Cumming said it’s too soon to say how much disruption there will be to traffic, adding details on lane closures are expected to be determined by early spring.
Business leaders in Surrey and New Westminster this month called on the province to reduce or suspend the tolls on the Port Mann Bridge while maintenance proceeds on the Pattullo, which they say won’t offer the reasonable, free alternative to the tolled Highway 1 crossing required under provincial policy if the work causes severe congestion.
A transportation ministry spokesman said the province could not yet respond to the call for toll relief because TransLink is still working on the traffic management plan.
The province has previously said the Alex Fraser Bridge can also serve as the free alternative to the Port Mann if the Pattullo is eventually tolled as well.
TransLink plans $100 million in rehabilitation work at the Pattullo.
That includes replacement of the bridge deck and several seismic upgrades, including adding a concrete jacket to strengthen three bridge piers that have been cracking, reinforcement of some steel girders, and installation of new bearings designed to hold the bridge spans in place on top of the piers.
Cumming said the 77-year-old bridge is in danger of failing from a moderate earthquake, a ship collision or river erosion and the money must be spent even though TransLink intends to replace the Pattullo with a new $1-billion bridge within seven to 10 years.
The new bridge is one of the projects in the mayors’ council vision going to a regional referendum on a proposed 0.5 per cent PST increase.
TransLink officials have previously said they would seek to replace the bridge – which would be funded by tolls – even if the referendum is defeated.
The replacement would be a modern four-lane bridge, designed for potential expansion to six lanes.
“Regardless of the timing of the replacement, we have to rehabilitate to improve the bridge to protect the driving public,” Cumming said. “Right now we’re at a high risk.”
The age and width of the bridge also complicates decisions on how to manage traffic during construction to protect workers and motorists, he said, adding TransLink is consulting the province.
Complete closures of the bridge may be necessary at some times.