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B.C. dismisses pitch for Pattullo Bridge tolls 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

The currently untolled Pattullo Bridge spans the Fraser River, connecting Surrey and New Westminster. (FILE PHOTO)

The currently untolled Pattullo Bridge spans the Fraser River, connecting Surrey and New Westminster. (FILE PHOTO)

Transportation Minister Todd Stone is cautioning against one of the only things Surrey and New Westminster agree on about the Pattullo Bridge’s future — tolling.

Speaking to reporters in Victoria, Stone said tolling whatever replaces the aging Pattullo “would seem to be contradictory to the provincial tolling policy,” which requires a free alternative route.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore quickly attacked his comments. On Twitter, Watts suggested that the province could take the bridge — which is operated by TransLink — back in its jurisdiction. Moore added Stone had already promised a tolling policy review this year.

Stone said he’s already promised to contribute one-third of the funding needed for a new bridge — and he would also like Ottawa to chip in, but the feds likely won’t be in favour of tolling.

“The feds have not tended to invest in projects that ended up having tolls on them at the end of the day,” Stone said.

So far, New Westminster has decided it wants a new four-lane bridge with tolling to generate funds. It would also support a two- or three-lane “rehabilitation” of the existing crossing, provided a new four-lane bridge is built between Surrey and Coquitlam.

Surrey Coun. Tom Gill — whose municipality wants a six-lane tolled replacement — said he’s disappointed and surprised by the New West position. He suggested the Royal City isn’t working with his city and TransLink.

According to New West, rehabilitated bridges would cost $250 million. A new four-lane bridge would cost $850 million, while a six-lane would cost $1.5 billion.

Gill dismissed the highest number, saying about one-third of that figure is for surrounding infrastructure not directly related to the bridge.

TransLink, meanwhile, said joint discussions have agreed on “further evaluation” of a new four- or six-lane bridge. TransLink vice-president Bob Paddon said in a statement the public would have an opportunity to provide feedback later this spring.

He added the transit provider expects the Mayors’ Council to include the Pattullo in its 10-year regional plan that is expected in late June.

 

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