It doesn’t have enough capacity, according to Delta and others.
The provincial government this week announced a contract has been awarded for the Pattullo Bridge replacement, a $1.4-billion bridge project which the City of Delta has been saying wasn’t properly designed.
While transportation minister Claire Trevena said drivers are now one step closer to a safer, more efficient crossing that will benefit thousands of people every day, Delta council and staff had previously made the city’s position clear when it comes to the aging four-lane bridge being replaced with a new span with the same number of lanes.
“There’s 77,000 vehicle crossings daily and it’s actually experiencing the highest rate of growth in truck volume of all the major river crossings in the Lower Mainland. Due to the traffic congestion at the Pattullo Bridge, commuters and commercial vehicles are detouring to alternate routes and currently the Alex Fraser (Bridge) is at capacity, there’s over 100,000 vehicles per day using that crossing,” engineering director Steven Lan told council a couple of years ago.
“And now with uncertainty with the George Massey Tunnel crossing, with that replacement, there is no relief in sight. So where else will the traffic go? Two crossings that are at and beyond capacity currently,” he added.
Having wider lanes, the new Pattullo crossing, however, will have the structural foundations to expand to six lanes in the future.
The region's Mayors' Council voted for the replacement before the province took over the project.
A report to Delta council noted the bridge is an important link in the region’s major road network but has significant traffic congestion during peak periods, and the additional capacity is already required.
“It does not make any sense for them to wait to go to six lanes,” said Lan.
“Would any of us want to go through another year or two of them converting basically a brand new four-lane bridge after they realize there is a shortfall of capacity, then spend another year or two widening that out?”
Delta’s submission to the environmental assessment office and TransLink mayors went unheeded, though.
The opposition Liberals have also been critical of having only a new four-lane span.
The Surrey Board of Trade also said the new bridge needs to be wider to handle with population growth in the region.
CEO Anita Huberman recently wrote to Trevena asking the government to reconsider the bridge’s design capacity.
Construction is to being this year with the new bridge scheduled to open in fall of 2023.