POSTPONED: Pattullo Bridge Review Consultation
TransLink is deferring announced public consultation regarding the Pattullo Bridge, which was to begin next week. This deferral will allow TransLink time to work with the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation to respond to last week’s request from the Province that the Council work with TransLink to develop a plan for transportation in the region. As the Pattullo Bridge is one of the key priorities for the region, TransLink needs time to confirm with the Mayors’ Council how options for this project will fit into the regional plan, which the Mayors have been asked to deliver by June 30, 2014.
TransLink anticipates completing this work as quickly as possible and commencing Phase 2 public consultation of the Pattullo Bridge Review later this spring. We apologize for any inconvenience.
This is perplexing, because it is so very wrong, and threatens the integrity of the consultation process that has been taking place for the last two years.
The purpose of the Pattullo Bridge Consultations, according to TransLink is to:
“review and evaluate alternatives to rehabilitate or replace the Pattullo Bridge, and to determine a preferred alternative that meets the needs of communities connected by the bridge, as well as the broader region served by the bridge.”
The last round of consultations took place in June of 2013, and TransLink brought to our communities a list of 25 options, ranging from complete removal of the bridge to a myriad of refurbishment, twinning, replacement, and relocation options. They had already “shortlisted” 6 options as meeting their declared objectives and warranting more discussion. They were sent back to their Sapperton Offices with comments (including some strong opinions that a few of the “not-recommended” options might require some re-consideration), presumably to apply some engineering and costing to the options to further evaluate their suitability.
At the time, they promised to be back in New Westminster in October 2013 with a refined list of alternatives, and for a preferred alternative to be offered in January 2014.
We are still waiting for that first meeting. Delays happen, I recognize. Some of the delay may be the fault of New Westminster asking for more time to work within the Master Transportation Planning framework, the group has sought further input from Coquitlam about alternate locations, and TransLink has been, for lack of a better word, distracted of late.
However, I encourage you to look at this diagram from the 2013 consultations:
See the pointy bottom of that pyramid? That is where, after extensive study and consultation, the alternative that “best meets community and regional needs” has been determined. Right below it is the next step: “review in context of other transportation priorities for investment and funding”. That sounds an awful lot like reviewing “how options for this project will fit into the regional plan”, which is what we are now awaiting before consultation can come back to the City.
Somehow, the Pyramid got mixed up.
I am disappointed, because I know what was coming to us for consultation, and it was exactly what we might expect coming out of the earlier consultations: the 6 options that were shortlisted in the earlier phase, with three of them eliminated from further analysis:
Gone: the rehabilitated 3-lane bridge, the rehabilitated 4-lane bridge, and the Coquitlam alternative.
Remaining: a new 4 lane bridge in the same spot, a 5 lane bridge with the outside lanes connecting directly to the SFPR, and a 6 lane bridge with the outside lanes connected directly to the SFPR and including some local road widening in New West.There are rumours of an extremely unlikely tunnel under Royal Ave.
The plans were completed enough that they were presented to the City of Surrey’s Transportation Committee this week and tweeted out by various participants.
If we know the plans, if the detailed engineering analysis we have waited 7 months for has been done, if information has already been leaked out, if the rooms are already booked, why, at the 11th hour is TransLink changing the consultation game? How does this help the credibility of an organization that (in my opinion) does great work with limited resources but is suffering a bit in the public relations department right now, and has done and excellent job (after a rocky start) at making this consultation process public, open, accessible, and accountable?
The future of the Pattullo Bridge is the single most important transportation issue in New Westminster today. Every other transportation issue from truck traffic overload to pedestrian safety is related to it. The Pattullo’s future will impact how and where our City will grow, and how we will apply our Master Transportation Plan to continue to develop one of the most “alternative-mode friendly” Cities in the region. Delaying these decisions does a disservice to the City TransLink now calls home.
Lets get on with it.