Cities on both sides of the Pattullo Bridge are looking to set up some ground rules when it comes to replacing the 79-year-old crossing.
Talk of charging a toll for the new bridge is now being put in writing in a memorandum of understanding between TransLink, Surrey and New Westminster.
“Since they put the toll on the Port Mann Bridge we’ve seen a significant diversion of traffic in our community,” New Westminster Mayor Jonathan X. Cote. “Being the toll-free alternative had a negative impact on traffic congestion.”
Cote said the Pattullo saw a jump from 60,000 to 80,000 trips each day since the Port Mann tolls took effect, causing congestion to spread throughout bordering communities.
While a toll might help alleviate traffic in the short term, the mayors of both New Westminster and Surrey say it’s on condition Metro Vancouver moves towards regional road pricing, which could include charging by total distance travelled or by time of day.
“Continuing to toll points south of the Fraser is not in and of itself a solution,” Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said. “There needs to be a better regional solution.”
In the meantime, tolling the Pattullo would limit the toll-free options to the Alex Fraser Bridge.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone said toll-free options must be available as part of the province’s tolling policy. He added the Pattullo is not under the ministry’s jurisdiction despite committing to pay a third of the cost.
“The decision respecting a toll on the Pattullo is a decision for the mayors and TransLink to make,” Stone said.
Other requirements outlined in the MOU include expanding the bridge from four to six lanes as well as installing bike lanes and a centre barrier. It also states TransLink should be ready to tender the project by October 2017.