Surrey, British Columbia –
The days of driving over Patolo Bridge in wide lanes are fast approaching.
British Columbia Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said on Wednesday that the new bridge linking Surrey and New Westminster is expected to be completed in 2024.
“The latest achievement is that we’ve completed all the work on the river, and I’m starting to see a massive expansion of access,” Fleming said.
The $1.3 billion megaproject began in March 2020, but has faced many challenges during the pandemic.
It was originally supposed to be completed this year, but it was delayed.
Over the years, the design of the new Patolo Bridge has come under intense scrutiny, after it was announced that it would still be a four-lane bridge, but with larger lanes and expansion margin.
“It has very narrow lanes, and it’s also had more than its fair share of accidents blocking that bridge because it wasn’t built to modern specifications, so it gets in the way of speed limits,” Fleming said.
“By having a modern free-flowing four-lane bridge, we expect it to solve a lot of its problems.”
South of the bridge is Surrey, which is a fast growing city.
According to city projections, this could add another 300,000 people over the next 30 years.
With the population rising, Mayor of Surrey Brenda Locke expressed her displeasure with Patolo’s four-lane design, saying it may be a short-term fix that will not last.
“It’s a four-lane bridge, which is disappointing for Surrey,” Locke said Wednesday.
“However, it was really important that it was a six-lane bridge, and the City of New Westminster struggles to accept that charge in their city.”
New Westminster Mayor Patrick Johnston told CTV News that the two communities, as well as TransLink, all agreed on the design years ago.
Johnston says discussions about expanding the bridge in the future could happen, but in the meantime he’s looking at ways to use the SkyTrain and other transit alternatives that can help improve traffic.
“Bringing that kind of transport density to South Fraser will really help more than just building new roads,” Johnston said.
Both mayors agree that safety needs to be addressed on the existing bridge, and that improvements are nearly 90 years long overdue.
The existing Patulo Bridge will remain in place until the new bridge is opened. The county has not announced an exact date for when that will happen.