Pattullo Bridge

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Pattullo Bridge
Coordinates49°12′27″N 122°53′41″W / 49.207575°N 122.894654°W / 49.207575; -122.894654 (Pattullo Bridge)Coordinates: 49°12′27″N 122°53′41″W / 49.207575°N 122.894654°W / 49.207575; -122.894654 (Pattullo Bridge)
CarriesFour lanes of British Columbia Highway 1A/99A, pedestrians and bicycles
CrossesFraser River
LocaleNew Westminster
Maintained byTransLink
DesignThrough arch bridge
Total length1227 m
OpenedNovember 15, 1937; 83 years ago (1937-11-15)
Daily traffic75,700

The Pattullo Bridge is a through arch bridge that crosses the Fraser River and links the city of New Westminster to the city of Surrey in British Columbia. The bridge was named in honour of Thomas Dufferin Pattullo, the 22nd Premier of British Columbia. A key link between Surrey and the rest of Greater Vancouver, the Pattullo Bridge handles an average of 75,700 cars and 3840 trucks daily, or roughly 20 percent of vehicle traffic across the Fraser River as of 2013.[1]


The first regular crossing of the Fraser River started in 1882, and was operated by a steam ferry named K de K, which transported residents and livestock from Brownsville to New Westminster.[2] During the late 1890s, the need for a new bridge became apparent after the existing ferry was deemed insufficient to handle future traffic demands. The first bridge, a combined steel two deck road and rail span, started construction in 1902, with completion in 1904. The bridge was built with two decks, the upper deck handling vehicular traffic and the lower deck functioning as a railway bridge.[3]

Again, growing traffic demands prompted the construction of a second bridge in 1936. The bridge was designed by supervising engineer Major W.G. Swan, and construction was tendered to the Dominion Bridge Company and Northern Construction & J.W. Stewart Ltd. The Pattullo Bridge was opened to traffic on November 15, 1937 by Premier "Duff" Pattullo, with a total cost of $4 million. The bridge was originally tolled at 25¢ per crossing, but was then removed in 1952.[4] The old bridge, now known today as the New Westminster Rail Bridge was converted to rail use only, and highway traffic was moved to the Pattullo Bridge.[5]


The Pattullo Bridge is 1,227 meters (4,026 ft) in total length, and consists of four lanes, with two in each direction. The bridge has 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 2 January 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 government has ruled out the idea of bringing back photo radar, which it eliminated province-wide in 2001.[6]

Oversized commercial vehicles are prohibited from using the bridge, as mandated by the British Columbia Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement agency.[7]

2009 bridge fire[edit]

Around 3 a.m. on 18 January 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.[8] 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.[9]

Rehabilitation and replacement efforts[edit]

On 31 July 2008, TransLink opted to replace the bridge, rather than try to refurbish the aging structure.[10] In June 2014, the Metro Vancouver Mayors' Council determined that a new, 4-lane, tolled replacement bridge was to be built, and to demolish the existing structure.[11] Construction is expected to take place between 2019 and 2023, with the $1.3 billion funding finalized in 2018.[12][13]

Over the course of 2016, rehabilitation work commenced on bridge deck repairs to keep the bridge operational until a replacement is built. From May 2 to August 26, the bridge was reduced to one lane of traffic in each direction, with full bridge closures on selected days. The bridge reopened one month ahead of schedule, on August 29.[14]

On 3 January 2020, the government of British Columbia contracted Fraser Crossing Partners - a joint partnership between Acciona Infrastructure Canada and Aecon Group Inc. - to design and construct the replacement bridge. The contract also includes the construction of new road connections at the bridgeheads in New Westminster and Surrey. The bridge will include pedestrian access and allow for future widening from 4 lanes to 6 lanes.[15] Construction of the new Pattulo Bridge is expected to begin in December 2020, and expected to be opened for use in fall 2023.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pattullo Bridge Perspective". City of New Westminster. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Brownsville Park and Sandbar". City of Surrey. 12 January 2004. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  3. ^ "From the opening of the Pattullo Bridge, 1937" (PDF). Burnaby Village Museum. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  4. ^ "Pattullo Bridge turns 75". The Surrey Leader. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  5. ^ "This day in history: November 15, 1937". The Vancouver Sun. 15 November 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Photo radar proposed for Pattullo Bridge". CBC News. 19 May 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  7. ^ "CVSE About Us". Government of British Columbia. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Pattullo Bridge to close for a month after fire". CBC News. 19 January 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Pattullo Bridge to reopen Monday". CBC News. 25 January 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  10. ^ "New tolled Pattullo Bridge gets green light". CBC News. 31 July 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  11. ^ "2014 Mayors' Council Report on Regional Transportation" (PDF). TransLink. June 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Pattullo Bridge Replacement Project: Community Connections" (PDF). TransLink. 13 June 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  13. ^ McElroy, Justin (16 February 2018). "B.C. government to build replacement for Pattullo Bridge". CBC News. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Pattullo Bridge Rehabilitation". TransLink. 29 April 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  15. ^ "BC government selects contractor for new $1.4-billion Pattullo Bridge | Urbanized". Retrieved 2020-01-04.
  16. ^ "Pattullo Bridge – Government of British Columbia". Retrieved 2020-12-18.

External links[edit]