Pattullo Bridge vulnerable to major wind and seismic events, report finds

A major wind storm or earthquake could cause serious damage to the Pattullo Bridge, according to a report presented to TransLink's board of directors.

TransLink board report urges closure of bridge no later than 2024

The 79-year-old Pattullo Bridge does not meet modern wind or seismic standards, a TransLink report has found. (CBC)

A major wind storm or earthquake could cause serious damage to the Pattullo Bridge, according to a report presented to TransLink's board of directors.

According to the report, the bridge does not meet modern wind or seismic load design standards, and upgrading it to do so would not be technically or economically feasible.

"Management does not consider the existing bridge as being viable from a risk and financial management perspective beyond the 2023-2024 timeframe," the report reads.

"This [bridge] represents TransLink's most urgent major infrastructure risk."

New Westminster city councillor Chuck Puchmayr said the report is cause for concern.

​"I was quite alarmed when the report stated that the actual wind impacts could be that severe that it could put the public at risk," he told CBC News.

Puchmayr also questioned why the provincial government is spending $3.5 billion to replace the Massey Tunnel when the Pattullo is in such desperate condition.

"The province has no problem bypassing TransLink and spending money to build a new 10 lane bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel," he said. "To not have money available for a bridge that is in very critical condition makes no sense whatsoever." 

TransLink urges bridge replacement

The newest problems with the Pattullo were discovered during the design process for the rehabilitation work that took place earlier this summer, intended to extend the bridge's life another seven years while replacement options are considered.

In an emailed statement, TransLink said these vulnerabilities highlight the need to replace the 79-year-old bridge, a major regional transportation artery between Surrey and New Westminster.

"Even with the current rehabilitation work complete, it will have a limited operational lifespan and be vulnerable during extreme events," the statement read.

According to the report, TransLink is exploring the possibility of using advanced warning systems to detect extreme wind and seismic events, allowing the bridge to be closed ahead of time.

The next round of public consultation on the bridge's replacement will begin in October and will focus specifically on pedestrian and cyclist use.

According to the report, TransLink hopes to replace the bridge by late 2022.

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