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Surrey's Board of Trade plans to meet with New West about Pattullo crossing

The Board wants the new crossing to be 6 lanes. New West wants it kept at 4

It’s been a longstanding topic of debate, but it looks like the Surrey Board of Trade’s (SBoT) Anita Huberman is planning to sit down with New West Mayor Patrick Johnstone about the “four vs. six vehicle lane” discussion involving the new Pattullo crossing.

On Wednesday, Feb. 15—in what was characterized by Global News as a "new Pattullo bridge lane controversy,” Huberman told the outlet that Surrey was still growing by 1,200 to 1,400 people a month—therefore it didn’t seem logical to keep the vehicle lanes at just four. It is worth noting, however, that the bridge is being built to allow for possible future expansion to six vehicle lanes.

On the same day, Johnstone tweeted a screenshot of a tweet he’d sent out in October of last year, offering to sit down with Huberman.

Huberman has since responded to Johnstone’s offer over Twitter, saying that her office would be reaching out to his.

SBoT has long been asking for the revamped crossing to be a six-lane vehicle traffic bridge. One of the first calls for more lanes happened in February 2018, when it said the province should anticipate more population growth. This was also the same month in which construction of the new crossing was announced.

“The new bridge will be four lanes to be built to modern safety standards, featuring a centre safety median barrier and wider lanes to accommodate both passenger and commercial vehicles. The bridge will also have walking and cycling lanes, separated from traffic, on both sides of the bridge,” the February 2018 statement from the SBoT reads.

“However, the Surrey Board of Trade asks the BC Government to re-consider an opening of 4-lanes to 6 lanes to accommodate certain population growth in the region … we must prepare for transportation infrastructure for future population growth.”

SBoT had the same ask in July of 2018 when the BC government announced it was looking for a contractor to work on the new crossing, when the contractor was selected in 2020, and again in August of last year when it announced it had sent a letter to provincial transportation minister Rob Fleming.

A report from the City of New Westminster, released in 2014, noted that the city would not support expanded capacity on the Pattullo Bridge, and that population growth could be managed without increased capacity.

“The projected growth in population and employment in Surrey and New Westminster is often cited as a reason for increasing capacity on the Pattullo Bridge. Research prepared for the City of New Westminster suggests that “…forecast land use changes and rapid transit decisions will have a limited impact on Pattullo Bridge demand,” page 10 of the Pattullo Bridge perspective report reads. The report goes on to say that New Westminster’s street network is a “major capacity limitation.”

“[New Westminster] is completely built out with limited road rights-of-way. Expanding the city’s road capacity not only undermines the regional goal of moving toward a compact urban area with sustainable transportation choices, it is not feasible given the dense, urban fabric of New Westminster. The city has instead focused on compact urban redevelopment supported by transit, walking and cycling networks.”

The new $1.377-billion crossing was slated to open this fall, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the opening to 2024. The bridge will be owned by the province, which will also be responsible for maintenance.

The current Pattullo Bridge first opened in 1937 and is one of the oldest bridges in Metro Vancouver. According to the province, it was designed to last about 50 years.

You can keep track of the replacement’s progress by visiting the Pattullo Bridge Replacement’s website or following its Twitter account.