As we blogged earlier today, a fire has shut down the Pattullo Bridge. Now it seems it will not just be Monday’s commute that will be affected. It looks like the bridge could be shut down for up to six weeks.
“Because of the severity of the damage, it will certainly be closed for a couple of days, but there is a strong likelihood that it will be closed for an extended period, perhaps as long as four to six weeks,” [TransLink spokesperson Ken Hardie] said.
Commuting across the Fraser is going to become a whole lot hairier. As mentioned in our earlier post, the 80,000 people who cross via the Pattullo every day are going to have to choose the Queensborough Bridge, the Alex Fraser Bridge, the Port Mann Bridge or SkyTrain instead.
“The Pattullo handles about 20 per cent of vehicle traffic across the Fraser River. As such, as motorists and commercial operators divert primarily to the Port Mann and Alex Fraser Bridges and the George Massey Tunnel – all motorists should expect additional traffic congestion and longer travel times,” said Hardie as authorities began to take measures to ensure a smoother flow of traffic at other crossings including greater enforcement of HOV lane use.
Emergency services such as ambulance and fire are making preparations to use other routes.
As well, it is expected that SkyTrain will be more congested at peak times as people make their way to and from home and work.
Here is a Google Maps mashup showing alternate routes for those who usually take the Pattullo.
Plan for delays and carpool or time-shift to avoid rush hour if possible.
Here’s what TransLink suggests:
Take public transit. SkyTrain is a commuter’s best bet for travel between New West and Surrey. Translink officials are considering starting SkyTrain cars earlier and adding more cars Monday morning. *
Take the Port Mann or Alex Fraser bridges, or the George Massey tunnel, before or after rush hour. Police are expecting higher-than-average volumes on the alternate bridges especially during rush hour, according to Translink spokesman Ken Hardie. Drivers are encouraged to either leave early.
Work at home. Translink spokesman Ken Hardie said he expects extra volume on the alternative arteries of the Port Mann and Alex Fraser bridges, and gridlock during rush hour.
“Residents are advised to work at home if they’re able to,” Hardie said Sunday.
TransLink knew the wooden trestles were an issue, but they were hoping to have more time to come up with a solution.
Creosote is used on the wood components to preserve it, but it also burns very well. TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast says they knew there were issues with the span. “We’d identified this element of the bridge something we were going to address right away, to put the bridge in good condition for ten years before we replace it with a new bridge.”
UPDATE: TransLink is suspending bicycle service on SkyTrain until further notice due to the extra volume that will be expected on SkyTrain. The N19 and C71 buses will be rerouted; please check the TransLink website for details.
Bicycle access to SkyTrain is suspended until further notice due to capacity limitations.
SkyTrain will begin service at 4:30 am from King George. SkyTrain will add from two to four additional trains between Scott Road and Waterfront Stations to provide extra capacity in the peak period.
Peak service will be maintained as long as necessary into the mid day and evening.
There will be ten additional trains left in service in the off-peak periods.
Source: TransLink website
Meanwhile, Rail for the Valley is pointing out that this is yet one more reason why TransLink should consider an Interurban rail line between the Fraser Valley and Vancouver.
If there was a compelling argument for the proposed interurban service to connect to downtown Vancouver, here it is. Those who want the interurban service to deadhead into Scott Road Station are extremely short sighted and certainly fail to understand the driving mechanisms in attracting ridership – the seamless or no transfer journey. For the next four weeks, the Pattullo Bridge will be closed to all traffic after a fire has badly damaged a wooden section of the bridge. This just leaves a SkyTrain connection to Vancouver. Already SkyTrain is crowded, leaving Surrey and not able to offer much in relief to the commuter. But on the other side of the Pattullo Bridge is the Fraser River Rail Bridge and would not TransLink look good offering quick journeys to Vancouver via the interurban from Langley and Surrey.