The City of New Westminster is calling for a tolled four-lane bridge to replace the 77-year-old Pattullo Bridge.
New Westminster made its views clear Wednesday in a statement posted to their Web site that says a Pattullo replacement without tolls would only draw traffic away from other tolled options in the region, notably the new Port Mann Bridge and the Golden Ears Bridge.
“Tolling is not only a means of financing the project but is also a critical measure of discouraging discretionary travel across the (Fraser) river,” said the statement.
Mayor Wayne Wright did not respond to calls for comment.
The 1,227-metre Pattullo Bridge, named for former B.C. premier Thomas Pattullo, spans the Fraser River linking New Westminster to Surrey.
Tom Gill, a Surrey city councillor who is also transportation chair, said New Westminster’s declaration caught him off guard given that the two communities have been talking about how to replace the bridge.
“I am quite surprised because I thought the process we were undergoing was to work together,” he said.
He said the two communities had been talking about a four or six-lane replacement. In its statement, New Westminster describes the six-lane option as “not preferred” because it would be an expensive option that would only provide “nominal” capacity benefits compared to the four-lane option.
Mr. Gill noted that Surrey believes in tolling equity on regional roadways, suggesting such pricing should be placed on all relevant infrastructure and not just some of it.
He said it was too soon to say how Surrey would proceed because he has not had an opportunity to speak to his fellow Surrey councillors.
In Victoria, B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone expressed concerns that a tolled Pattullo would eliminate free options in the region violating provincial tolling policy.
However, he noted that the discussion is in its very early stages as TransLink, the regional transportation authority, considers a replacement structure for the bridge. “That’s work TransLink is in the middle of,” he said.
The province has committed to paying one-third of the cost for a Pattullo replacement if the cities of Surrey and New Westminster can agree on how to replace it.
He said he did not expect any decision on the issue before an expected 2015 referendum in coming years on options for funding transit expansion in the Lower Mainland.
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