Pattullo Bridge: 5 things you may not have known

The 79-year-old Pattullo Bridge that is currently undergoing a complete deck resurfacing — and causing headaches for many commuters — has an interesting past.

Historian reveals unknown facts about the 79-year-old bridge that is undergoing a deck resurfacing

The Pattullo Bridge, which connects Surrey and New Westminster across the Fraser River, opened in 1937. (CBC)

The 79-year-old Pattullo Bridge that is currently undergoing a complete deck resurfacing — and causing headaches for many commuters — has an interesting past. 

Historian Michael Kluckner shared some of the bridge's history on the CBC's The Early Edition.

An illustration of the bridge from the 1937 opening. (Burnaby Village Museum)

1. It was named after a premier

The bridge, which opened in 1937, was named after former B.C. Premier Thomas Dufferin Pattullo. 

"He was the premier who built the bridge and they named it after him, which I don't think you can get away with now," Kluckner said. 

2. Nicknamed 'Pay-toll-a'

In the late 1930s the nickname 'Pay-toll-a' took off because it was a toll bridge.

3. It cost $4 million to build 

Premier Pattullo invested money to build the bridge despite the recession at the time. 

The price tag was $4 million, including the cost of the main contract, cement, purchase of right-of-way, and realigning and resurfacing of highways approaching the bridge. 

The cost of the rehabilitation work on the bridge currently underway is $10 million from May to October.

The structure was also the first bridge in Canada to be illuminated by sodium vapour lamps, like the San Francisco Golden Gate bridge. 

4. 5,000 cars a day 

When it was newly built 5000 cars drove across the bridge each day, according to New Westminster Parks and Recreation.

Today 80,000 cars cross the bridge on an average weekday. 

5. It opened up Surrey 

"It made the cheap land in Surrey really attractive," said Kluckner. 

He said the bridge turned Surrey into a suburb. 

"There was no real shopping infrastructure in Surrey at that time."

The cover of the 1937 Pattullo Bridge souvenior programme. (Burnaby Village Museum)

With files from the CBC's The Early Edition and Christine Coulter.