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TransLink shows Pattullo plans to stakeholders

Hector Bremner got a sneak peak at TransLink's plans to rebuild the Pattullo Bridge. He was not impressed.

Bremner, who hopes to become the BC Liberal nominee for the New Westminster riding, attended a stakeholders meeting in Surrey last Thursday where TransLink revealed its options to replace the aging structure.

Five options were presented, he said, all with slight differences in positioning, for a six-lane bridge including two lanes designated for commercial movement. On the north side, traffic would flow on and off the bridge to McBride Boulevard, Royal Avenue and Columbia Street.

Several aspects of the presentation bothered Bremner.

Expanding from the current four-lane span to six would clog up the routes leading up to the bridge even more than they already are, he said, and there is no room to widen any of those streets.

A six-lane bridge would be safer and nicer, "but once it goes to the north side of the river, where does it go? It doesn't go anywhere now, so what's going to happen then," said Bremner. "It's just the reality of the way the city was laid out."

Bremner called for a broader transportation plan to be developed for the region that would incorporate more public transit, including adding light rail in Surrey, instead of a piecemeal approach of simply replacing the bridge because it's deteriorating.

"We have to better plan our communities so they can live and work in their community," he said. "There are practical solutions here. These plans are being ignored, and we're being told shut up and pay the bill ... Nobody's debating these infrastructure improvements aren't valuable, but they're only valuable if they're part of an overall regional plan. We're just patching at this point."

Attendees at the meeting were told there were 13 options considered before being narrowed down to five. "I would have liked to have seen the other eight," said Bremner.

In 2008 there were calls for angling the bridge from North Surrey to Sapperton Bar so it would connect with Brunette Avenue and the Highway 1 corridor. TransLink says it isn't considering that option because it would be about twice as costly as the $800 million to $1 billion options near the current alignment, and it wouldn't serve the traffic demand between New Westminster and Surrey.

Bremner believes it should be considered. "It makes more sense to connect with that Highway 1 corridor."

"The team that's handling this exercise is the same team that did the [United Boulevard Extension] outreach exercise. I feel the same issues that existed then exist during this exercise," said Bremner.

New Westminster city council has decided against participating in the stakeholder and public consultation process in favour of the city working on its own master transportation plan.

Another stakeholders meeting is scheduled for New Westminster on Feb. 15 at Centennial Community Centre.

That is also where the first public showing of the plans will be made on Feb. 21, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Another will be held at the Inn at the Quay two nights later.

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