The Pattullo Bridge is a through arch bridge located in the Metro Vancouver region of British Columbia, Canada. Constructed in 1936–37, it spans the Fraser River and links the city of New Westminster on the north bank of the river to the city of Surrey on the south bank. The bridge was named in honour of Thomas Dufferin Pattullo, former premier of British Columbia. The bridge's base is constructed of wood. A key link between Surrey and the rest of Greater Vancouver, according to TransLink, the Pattullo bridge handles an average of 67,000 cars and 3400 trucks daily, or roughly 20 percent of vehicle traffic across the Fraser River.
The Pattullo Bridge, which is 1,227 meters (4,026 ft) in total length, consists of four lanes (two in each direction) with no barrier of any sort in the centre, making it highly prone to head-on collisions, especially at excessive speed or in bad weather. In recent years, TransLink has closed the middle lanes to traffic from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. in an effort to lower the high number of head-on collisions, and installed a series of plastic pillars to raise the visibility of the centre-lane divider. On January 2, 2006, four people were killed in a T-bone collision between two cars on the southern approach lane.
In response to the high number of crashes on the bridge, TransLink studied the idea of reducing the number of lanes on the bridge from four to three using a counterflow operation, similar to that used on the Lions' Gate Bridge, with the number of lanes varied depending on traffic flow and volume. However, traffic analysis showed that significant congestion would result in Surrey and New Westminster, and the idea was abandoned. TransLink also examined a number of options to install a centre-line barrier and, in concert, to ban truck traffic from the bridge because the barrier would further narrow the traffic lanes, but that too was proven impractical. A more controversial proposal is to install photo radar on the bridge to enforce the existing speed limit. Thus far, the provincial Liberal government has ruled out the idea of bringing back photo radar, which it cancelled after first being elected in 2001.
On July 31, 2008, TransLink decided to replace the Pattullo Bridge rather than try to repair the aging, narrow-laned structure, and told staff to start planning for it as a toll bridge.
Around 3 a.m. on January 18, 2009, a fire started on the south end of the bridge in the structure under the bridge deck. The 60-foot (18 m)-long wooden trestle on the south side of the bridge connecting the steel and concrete structure to the earthen berm sustained damage, and had to be completely rebuilt. Investigators are treating the fire as suspicious. Initially, it was estimated that the bridge would be closed for 4–6 weeks. However, by reusing a temporary bridge structure used on the Canada Line project, the bridge was reopened on Monday, January 26.