The Pattullo Bridge, one of Metro Vancouver's busiest, was closed to traffic after it was damaged by fire on Jan. 18. (CBC)

The Pattullo Bridge across the Fraser River will be shut down to vehicular traffic nightly and on weekends while crews repave the crossing that connects Surrey and New Westminster.

The closures, which started Sunday, will shut the bridge southeast of Vancouver from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. on Monday to Thursday, and from 8 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday, until the work is finished.

No date has been set for the completion of the work, which involves removing old asphalt that contains asbestos from the bridge deck, but it is expected to take two or three weeks, according to TransLink.

"It’s vital to keep the Pattullo Bridge in as good condition as possible while we plan, design and build the new crossing over the next several years," said Tom Prendergast, CEO of TransLink, which is responsible for maintaining the bridge.

"We did get an inadvertent ‘head start’ during the emergency closure in January, and now it’s time to finish the job," said Prendergast, referring to a fire under the bridge in January that destroyed a section of timber support structure. Approximately 20 per cent of the paving work was done while the new span was put in place, he said.

A replacement for the 72-year-old bridge is scheduled to be completed by 2019.