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Pattullo solution will be found eventually: Wright
It may be a decade away but a solution to the problems an aging Pattullo Bridge are presenting will be found says New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright.
The mayor said the feedback results from consultation done by the bridge's operator TransLink and the cities of New West and Surrey released earlier this week offered up no surprises. He said it's always been known Surrey wants to have as much space and lanes to get across to New West while Royal City residents are worried about the impact that would have on their streets.
But that doesn't mean the gridlock in positions won't eventually be overcome, according to Wright.
"At the end of the day we will land on something, and we will get something done, [but we may be] 10 years away from getting it done," said Wright.
He noted the results showed the most support, especially from New West residents, for a new bridge connecting North Surrey to Coquitlam in tandem with rehabilitating the Pattullo to carry two or three lanes of traffic instead of four.
He said although it might cost the most—the preliminary estimate is $1.4 to $1.5 billion, it's a solution worth investigating further.
"We're not finished with that," said Wright Tuesday. "The one to Coquitlam seems to make the most sense because you can connect to Highway 1 and keep the Pattullo for local traffic."
It's a solution the City of Coquitlam might be amenable to as well. Mayor Richard Stewart said with the Brunette interchange on Highway 1 receiving the smallest makeover of any along the freeway during the current expansion a Surrey-Coquitlam bridge might be a way of freeing up regional connections in the traffic-troubled area.
"It's certainly worth considering, it's an interesting concept," Stewart said.
TransLink has determined the Pattullo presents problems because the 76-year-old structure is deteriorating and the bridge's tight lanes make safety an issue.
Finding a way to pay for any of the six solutions recommended by the review team for further consideration is another matter since TransLink doesn't have any money pegged for the project. Replacing the Pattullo with a four-, five- or six-lane structure could cost between $820 million and $1.18 billion while the cost to rehabilitate it is estimated at up to $400 million.
"I can't see any other way but [regional] tolls," said Wright before going on to say the provincial and federal governments would also have to be involved.
Although there was a high acceptance during the public consultation phase in June favouring creating a bridge from Surrey to Coquitlam and rehabbing the Pattullo, New Westminster Coun. Bill Harper said given the high cost there's no way that's in the cards.
"It's going to be a long process. Before you even contemplate building a bridge, you have to look at tolling," said Harper on Tuesday. "If the provincial government turns down tolling, there's going to be no bridge. You've got no way to pay for it."
One of the important parts of the upcoming discussion that hasn't been dealt with yet, said Wright and Harper, is where the traffic lands after it comes over the bridge.
Coun. Betty McIntosh said the process was much more professional compared to 2012 when TransLink unilaterally presented a bunch of alternatives based on a six-lane replacement near where the current structure is located.
"I don't want to see a six-lane Pattullo Bridge. Do we need greater capacity, or do we need to look at other transit alternatives?" said McIntosh.
She said to avoid all the truck traffic on the bridge the Fraser River should be used for goods transportation. She also said Surrey needs to be more like New Westminster and develop a community where people live, work and play.
McIntosh also supports leveling low tolls on all the region's bridges, similar to many routes in the United States, to pay for the capital costs of regional transportation infrastructure.
"It's not uncommon to have to go over a bridge when you're in San Francisco and you just throw in your coin," said McIntosh.