The candidates weigh in: what to do about the Pattullo?

This is the third in a series of articles sharing highlights from NWEP's mayor and council candidates questionnaire on environmental issues. While we shared the candidates' opinions on traffic issues in our last post in this series, it's worth taking a little more time to discuss one issue in particular that could have a profound impact on traffic flow in New Westminster: the proposed replacement of the Pattullo Bridge.

The Pattullo Bridge. Photo: Gord McKenna
The Pattullo Bridge. Photo: Gord McKenna

This is the third in a series of articles sharing highlights from NWEP’s mayor and council candidates questionnaire on environmental issues. The first article in the series shared the mayoral candidates’ takes on “sustainability” in New West, and the second dealt with traffic. The full questionnaire and all candidate responses are on NWEP’s website.

While we shared the candidates’ opinions on traffic issues in our last post in this series, it’s worth taking a little more time to discuss one issue in particular that could have a profound impact on traffic flow in New Westminster: the proposed replacement of the Pattullo Bridge. Unless otherwise indicated, responses are from council candidates.

NWEP asked the candidates: TransLink continues to mull a replacement for the Pattullo Bridge. Would you rather see the bridge repaired, replaced with a 4-lane structure, or replaced with a larger structure? Would you support tolling the bridge to pay for its replacement? If you don’t support replacement, would you support tolling the existing bridge?

Here’s what they said:

Repair the bridge

Susan Wandell
If the bridge is not structurally sound, it should be replaced. If it is safe, it should be changed to a 3 lane bridge operating like the Lions Gate Bridge alternating two lanes direction during rush hours.

Replace the bridge with a 4-lane structure

Vance McFadyen – Mayoral Candidate
Considering the Pattullo Bridge was opened in 1939 (I believe), the considerable amount of money already spent on maintenance/repair and most importantly the many vehicular deaths caused primarily by design and congestion, I would prefer to see it replaced with a well designed 4 lane bridge and tolled.

François Nantel – Mayoral Candidate
They should build a new 4-lane bridge, which would be one way up to McBride, and keep the old one as one way down to King George. All money should come from the Bank of Canada, just printed new money (electronically, like the charter banks do), and build the bridge as an asset of corresponding value, creating no inflation. Same thing should have been done for all capital expenditures. Unfortunately, we have been hoodwinked. In case of an earthquake, may be 1 bridge would do better than the other, keeping a critical link between the shores of the Fraser

Jonathan Cote
If Translink moves ahead with the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, I would only support a 4 lane structure. New Westminster’s road network is operating near capacity and cannot handle increased traffic. The expansion of the Pattullo Bridge would only induce more traffic into our community and local neighbourhoods.

Vladimir Krasnogor
Until we have a complete picture of costs and other details, replacing with 4-lane seems the most practical solution. I am well aware that members of the community prefer a larger structure, and some people prefer no bridge at all.

Betty McIntosh
A new 4 lane with proper widths would give as much capacity as New Westminster could accomodate with continued tolls

Replace the bridge with a larger structure

Gerry Liu
The issues of the Pattullo Bridge is to replace with a larger structure, and with the bridge construction helped with Federal Funding.

Supports tolls

Vance McFadyen – Mayoral Candidate
I would prefer to see it replaced with a well designed 4 lane bridge and tolled. I cannot honestly comment on tolling the existing bridge unless it is to build funds for the new bridge but I fear it may take too long to accomplish that goal.

Jonathan Cote
Although I have some concerns about the un-coordinated road pricing system that exists in Metro Vancouver, I think it is reasonable that Translink pursue this as an option to finance this project.

Jaimie McEvoy
If other bridges are tolled and a new Pattullo was not, that would encourage more vehicles into New Westminster. I would like to see tolling, but with a low toll or none at all for local residents, promoting the idea of a local bridge for local traffic, which is only one-third of the bridge’s actual total now.

As a SkyTrain rider and transit user myself, it occurs to me that I do pay a toll every time I use public transit. SkyTrain and buses are just as much a part of the transit system our taxes paid for as roads, yet there is a specific toll each and every time. This disincentive to use transit should be eliminated. Public transit is just a way of getting around, just like roads and bridges, and should be free and equally paid for through our taxes.

Betty McIntosh
I think the present bridge should be tolled now to gather funds for a replacement bridge of 4 lanes in the future.

Bob Osterman
We MUST have the Patullo tolled,if we do not, we will become the Fraser crossing of choice and we will be inundated with even yet more traffic.

Susan Wandell
Tolls are a fair way of paying for infrastructure. Tolls are used throughout the Maritimes and are accepted. Once the Gateway project is completed and a toll in place on the Port Mann Bridge, the Pattullo Bridge will have to be tolled in order to protect the liveability of our neighbourhoods from the increase in traffic.

Lorrie Williams
If tolls go up on the Port Mann then they have to go up on the Pattullo.

Opposes tolls

John Ashdown
With the gas and associated government taxes and fees now levied against motorists I am against tolls. The gas tax was brought in decades ago specifically to cover expense of roads and bridges and they continue to rise. Use that tax for it’s intended use. TransLink being constantly in our pockets to cover costs is double dipping as are the board of directors with their TransLink and Mayor’s Salaries.

Other answers

James Crosty – Mayoral Candidate
I support the question going to the public as a referendum after ensuring that all options are presented to the people of New Westminster.

Wayne Wright – Mayoral Candidate
The Pattullo bridge must be replaced and consultation will determine the optimum size. Tolling and road pricing is on the agenda with GVRD and the Province.

John Ashdown
About all you can do with Pattullo bridge to maintain it is, Paint and Patch. Increasing lanes? Not likely by design. It is an old bridge and deserves a place in New West’s history. I am in favour of a new Bridge off United in Coquitlam where it can connect via King Edward to Lougheed and the Stormont connector. Why not build a new bridge and retain the Pattullo for pedestrians, cyclists, scooters and “0” emission electric vehicles.

Jaimie McEvoy
Patullo Bridge as it currently exists is fundamentally unsafe. It does not adequately accommodate cyclists and pedestrians. It was closed for a time because part of it is actually made of wood and it caught fire.

And when it was closed, life continued. The traffic disaster that resulted adjusted after a couple of days.

In my view, it never made a lot of sense to connect a 1930s bridge to a residential street system initially designed for the horse and buggy. It makes less sense to add two more lanes of traffic to a small city where people have to drive through those residential areas before connecting with major roadways.
Two-thirds of the bridge’s traffic is not local at all to New Westminster or North Surrey, but is just passing through to somewhere else. A new Pattullo Bridge could route through North Surrey, and connect with Highway 1 and North Road in Coquitlam. It’s an only an idea, but an idea worth considering.

Any decision on the bridge should not occur before complete environmental and impact assessments on the options, and fair consideration of all of the options.

David Noshad
Issues like this require extensive research and analyzing all the pros and cons. I will base my decision on the best interest of the city, environment and our citizens’ preference.

Gavin Palmer
We need to work with TransLink in dealing with the Pattullo Bridge. It has to be done within the constraints of public funding and whether it is repaired, refurbished or replaced will depend on the overall plan to move traffic through the region. New Westminster is not the dumping ground for the region’s traffic issues and we need to garner better respect from our neighbors. We are the keystone to the region and we deserve better treatment from our regional government not the current lip service our current regime accepts from this body.

Chuck Puchmayr
There is a group called Get Moving BC, which had a report produced by a Voice New Westminster founding director (see Kent Spencer, The Province Published: Monday, September 15, 2008) recommending another 8 lanes of traffic into New Westminster by replacing the Pattullo bridge with an 8 lane structure at the foot of King George. I do not support an 8 lane Pattullo replacement. We can’t keep dumping the regions traffic through our city. When an 8 lane bridge becomes gridlocked, and it will, our neighbourhoods will suffer total gridlock and emergency vehicle response times will become critical.

Lorrie Williams
I don’t know enough about bridges to know if it should be replaced or repaired or expanded.

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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    1. This is only a suggestion actually, as in a brain storming session. It is not as if this is it or nothing. For example, the idea of keeping the bridge as a walk way, (as was suggested by a Vancouver civic employee recently) may be an option to look into. Why destroy the bridge if it can be of more or different use. If 8 lanes is too many, some lanes could be dedicated to transit, taxi and motor bike. It is not because you have 8 lanes that you have to have them all open anyway. To me, if possible, keeping such a structure, like the Port Mann, as an insurance policy, something, I know, foreign to our provincial government who like to react instead of acting. I.E. Stanley Cup Riot, and Pickton In both case money was the object to intervene, but after the fact, hey, lots of money all of a sudden!. I appreciate the feedback though. It gives to opportunity to elaborate a bit. Thanks Pat! (please see

  1. Chuck might also recall that another founding director, me, worked in conjunction with Andrew Murray, Matthew Laird and Andrew Feltham to host a debate at the Justice Institute on the issue of the expansion of the Port Mann and how this might impact New Westminster. We, before NWEP existed, recognized that this expansion would have serious issues for the livability of our city. BTW: I think that NWEP fulfills an important role in our city.

    Voice directors and candidates are a diverse group and aren't uniform in their thinking on all issues. We have no "whip". There are differing opinions within the group and this issue is just one of them.
    Voice people value honest disagreement on issues and open discussion of issues because that’s how we get to solutions that work for everyone and move our community forward. Voice is not monolithic in its thinking but rather we are respectful of differing viewpoints that are rooted in honest differences in perspective. The connecting fibre at the core of Voice is putting the community first and balancing interests, unlike groups and candidates who are focused on a single special interest.

    1. Fair comment from Neil. I recall the leadership you showed during the UBE process. While some similarities can be generally felt with Voice Candidates, the only this repeated as a platform talking point is that "Voice is a diverse group and aren't uniform in their thinking".
      Still, I see many lawns with signs from all known interest groups in the city. A lawn in QP the other day had Cook, J-Campbell, McIntosh, Noshad, and Wright!

      1. I too remember that forum. It had Joyce Murray on the stage along with Chuck Puchmayr. And the usual New Westminster mantra, get rid of the trucks and traffic through our fortress New Westminster. One of the great things I enjoyed most about the forum was asking the entire crowd, including the moderators who worked and had a knowledge of the transportation industry (not just goods movement but overall transportation industry) in the room. And one person (guess who) put up his hand. I have since flown the white flag on issues of goods movement and transportation with regards to New West and the region as a whole. I can actually see Translink's plan for New West… unbearable congestion. Shoot down the UBE, flush the north fraser perimeter road and upgraded or new patullo bridge. Just eternal gridlock in New West.

    2. You say that Voice has "no whip" Neil. Are you inferring that other groups running in this election somehow do? Could it be that Voice doesn't have a 'whip' when it comes to council currently because Voice has NO ONE on council currently?

  2. Because if you look around at all those nice new condo developments (and the additional property tax dollars that they bring) of course none of those people will be driving. Every person moving into those condos will live and work in New West, within blocks of where they live. Who needs to improve the traffic corridors right?

  3. My question is when is the CC going to make a bylaw that anyone moving to the City of New West must not only live here but work here. Because look at all the job opportunities there are in New Westminster. You have those high paying longshore jobs down at the docks. Oops. Sorry, they're all condos now. Yeah but there's those really good jobs at the brewery. Oops, no that was knocked down to build another village type community. But still, you can go work at Brewers Distributors at Braid and Brunette. What? They've moved to Poco. And that land is slated to be developed as tenancy winds down. Oh, but there's Canfor. Oh that's right, they're gone. Well, there's always those huge sawmills over in Queensborough. Yeah, that's it. What do you mean Lowes, a Casino, a shopping mall and more housing developments are there. I guess people are going to have to either barge it over to Queensborough or row canoes or something, once the gridlock reaches its peak.

  4. New proposals for city mottos. "New Westminster: Where time and traffic stand still" "New Westminster: 1950s thinking meets 21st century reality = land of the eternal gridlock." Or my favourite "New Westminster: Tenth to the Fraser, Hwy1 to 20th Street, anywhere else just doesn't exist." "Land of the Ostriches."

  5. I should have known that traffic, roads and bridges would get Dave out. 🙂 I remember your question, Dave.
    Recently, at one of the AC meetings WW spoke of how happy he was that there had been so few tied votes on issues at council. Might that be because most (certainly a majority of 4 councilors) all seem to be singing from the same songbook. I'll let you figure out who the conductor is there. 😉
    I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I do agree with you on something. The issue of how New Westminster has lost so many jobs over the last decade and has become somewhat of a bedroom community is a serious issue. I believe it is one, one mind you, of the reasons why our taxes have been escalating year on year in this City. I guess it's a good thing we have an Economic Development Director working on the issue.

  6. Some bridges are exuberant iconic structures that capture the zeitgeist of an era. Our Puttullo is certainly that – just recall who it is named after or see it at dawn. It has a commanding presence in our community not just physically but historically – its our Lion's Gate-Brooklyn-Tower Bridge.

    Alas mid-century transportation planning and bridge design can't cope with the extreme challenges of managing NW traffic today. As a vehicle link the bridge must go. I concur with others: move it upstream to connect with regional system upgrades at hwy. 1 &/or build the Tree Island bridge downstream.

    But then keep Pattullo by all means: a bike/pedestrian link; linear park; a "high level" cafe at the mid-point….build condos on the approach ramps. Let the imagination go!
    Its a historic place that needs to remain part of our town, albeit with a new, creative purpose.
    Check out this park in NYC on a former elevated train line: Pourquoi pas nous?

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