The B.C. government has hired Fraser Crossing Partners to replace the aging Pattullo Bridge with a new crossing between Surrey and New Westminster.
The company came in with the province’s preferred contract and is committed to building the span for $967.5 million.
“People in the Lower Mainland depend on the Pattullo Bridge every day, and they deserve safe, easy, toll-free commutes,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said.
“The current bridge has needed to be replaced for years, and I’m proud our government is getting it done in a way that benefits the local community with good jobs and training opportunities. This is all part of our work to keep people and goods moving as we build a strong, sustainable B.C.”
The entire project will cost nearly $1.4 billion.
The bridge replacement will be built under the province’s Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), which prioritizes hiring local workers, including Indigenous peoples, women, people with disabilities and other under-represented groups who are qualified to do the work. Horgan says the agreement will mean the project could be as much as four per cent more expensive than without a CBA, but the bid still came in below original budget projections.
“We believe that the net benefit of the project is in the output,” he said. “We get a good bridge, we get training and currently we are below budget based on the tenuring process. So the argument that those that oppose the projects like this make really don’t matter that much in my mind.”
BC Liberal MLA Marvin Hunt questions the government’s decision to add potential costs to the project, saying CBAs result in fewer competing bids, higher project costs and the exclusion of nearly 80 per cent of B.C.’s construction sector.
Under the CBA legislation, workers must join a government-approved union before working on a project. The NDP has promised to use CBAs in all projects using public funds.
Hunt also criticized the NDP for replacing “an already overcapacity four-lane bridge, with another four-lane bridge.”
“Between this and the consistently botched Massey Tunnel replacement, it is clear that this government is out of its element when it comes to fiscal management on projects of this scope.”
The four-lane bridge will be wider than the current span and will include dedicated pedestrian and cyclist lanes separated from traffic. The bridge will also be built to allow for future expansion to six lanes.
Construction is expected to begin in the coming months and is scheduled to open in fall 2023.