A consultants' report recommends building a new bridge to connect Surrey and New Westminster, B.C., instead of improving the 71-year-old Pattullo Bridge spanning the Fraser River.
The report, to be presented to a TransLink board meeting Thursday, recommends a new bridge 50 metres downstream from the Pattullo, one of the busiest bridges in B.C. with daily traffic of more than 79,000 vehicles.
A significant capital-cost investment is required to "rehabilitate the bridge to obtain three standard-travel lanes," says the report conducted by Delcan, an engineering, management and technology consulting firm.
"For the same money that would cost to make an old bridge last another 50 years, we could add three lanes onto a brand new one that will last for 100 years," said Ken Hardie, a spokesman for TransLink, the transportation authority of the southern B.C. coast.
New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright said the Pattullo Bridge has seen too many traffic accidents over the years.
"The discussions have been going on for years and years, especially in the last half a dozen years or so, because of some of the accidents that have taken place and some of the possibilities of what they could do with the bridge and they've done everything that they could," Wright said Wednesday.
Twenty-eight people have died on the bridge in the past 22 years. Most of deaths were in head-on crashes.
The paving work planned for the Pattullo Bridge in July and August has been postponed until next spring, TransLink said earlier this week.
"Due to the current boom in activity in other areas of the roadbuilding sector, no companies were able to proceed with the project in line with TransLink's objectives," said a company news release issued Monday.
Hardie said Wednesday the Pattullo is safe for commuters.
"It's an old bridge with narrow lanes. If people drive it according to those conditions, everyone gets across safely," he said.
Overnight lane closures, introduced as a safety measure in 2005, will remain in effect. The middle two lanes are closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. nightly.