The Pattullo Bridge replacement has cleared another hurdle that keeps it on track to start construction later this year.
B.C.’s environment and municipal affairs ministries awarded the Ministry of Transportation an environmental assessment certificate for the $1.4-billion project Thursday after the environmental assessment office (EAO) recommended giving the green light.
“The ministers are confident that construction, demolition, and operational activities would be conducted in a way that ensures that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur,” the ministries said in a joint statement.
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Construction is expected to start this summer, with the replacement opening by 2023 to the roughly 68,000 vehicles that use the bridge daily.
The new four-lane bridge is planned to be constructed 100 metres upstream and roughly parallel with the existing crossing that connects Surrey to New Westminster and which has stood for more than 80 years.
The plans include separated cycling and pedestrian paths on both sides while keeping direct connections to King George Boulevard in Surrey and McBride Boulevard in New Westminster. New ramps will be constructed to connect to Highway 17 and East Columbia Street.
“The new bridge will make it easier and safer for people to cross the Fraser River whether driving, cycling or walking,” Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said in a statement.
“The environmental assessment certificate is a significant step for the project and will set out the conditions of how the new bridge will be designed and built. As we move ahead to the next stage, it is important to continue meaningful consultation and engagement with Indigenous groups and local communities.”
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The certificate comes with 20 legally binding conditions, including assuring minimal impacts on fish, wildlife, and the area’s marine and fishery industries. Construction and demolition environmental management plans are also required.
The conditions listed in the decision will require further consultations with Indigenous groups, who will also be included in a monitoring plan. The EAO consulted with 14 Indigenous groups while writing its initial report.
The Ministry of Transportation is still required to obtain other federal, provincial and local permits, along with project and environmental review permits from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
The project is set to be built through the province’s new and controversial community benefits agreement (CBA), which prioritizes local, First Nations, women, and apprentice workers on the job, while requiring all contractors to use union labour.
The province has yet to choose a contractor for the replacement but has narrowed the selection down to three project teams.
Among the firms involved in the teams are SNC-Lavalin — which is largely responsible for the region’s SkyTrain infrastructure — and Kiewit, which led the construction of the new Port Mann Bridge.