Repurposing Pattullo the logical choice 0
It wasn't long ago when we were finished using a consumer product it was guaranteed to end up in the landfill. Today, we better understand how this type of activity can harm the environment and is unsustainable in the long run.
That's why most Metro Vancouver cities have adopted the "3R" principles of reduce, reuse and recycle. Perhaps it is time for those same cities to also add repurpose into the mix.
In Vancouver they are debating the dismantling of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Street viaducts. Meanwhile, in New Westminster and Surrey the topic of what to do with the existing Pattullo Bridge is making waves.
On June 6, I am pleased to be co-hosting a community forum along with fellow New Westminster resident and 24 hours online editor Keith MacKenzie to discuss what should happen next to the 75-year-old Pattullo Bridge.
We've been inspired by what we've seen other cities accomplish with their timeworn and decaying infrastructure.
In New York, they took an old unused railway and converted it into a wonderful linear park, which has become both a local and tourist attraction. In Oregon, the City of Salem converted the historic Union Street Railroad Bridge and its associated timber trestle into a facility for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorized users.
If you were to think of the overall bridge surface of the Pattullo as prime Metro Vancouver real estate, it may help to jump-start your imagination.
What if it were converted into a two-lane bridge with parking meters as a revenue generator? Add into the mix a couple of bridge deck restaurants near the apex, which feature breathtaking views of the North Shore and Fraser River. At each end it could feature a special bungee jump station and unique glass bottom walkway. Now, throw in a dedicated pedestrian and cycle path for good measure.
However, if the Pattullo is going to remain part of the landscape, it is critical that TransLink involve the private sector. They should also consider the adaptive re-use of the old bridge as part of the overall plan to build a new one.
That's why the real estate on the Pattullo should be leased for $1 to the most creative private sector bidder prepared to convert it into a job-generating and eco-friendly piece of infrastructure.
The Pattullo debate doesn't need to deteriorate into a divisive and partisan battle. But in order to prevent that, TransLink better find some real wins for two communities who see nothing in the current plans but more traffic on their roads.