Get Moving BC
For Immediate Release
January 19, 2009

  

PATTULLO BRIDGE FIRE HEIGHTENS TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK FEARS

 

Vancouver, B.C. - The closure of the Pattullo Bridge for four to six weeks due to extensive fire damage is drawing fresh attention to the need for more bridge infrastructure crossing the Fraser River.

Get Moving BC spokesperson Jordan Bateman says the bridge closure will highlight the fact that we have no margin of error or prudent redundancy in our Fraser River bridge supply to cope with such a dire situation.

“I can’t even begin to imagine how bad things will be if there’s an accident on the Port Mann Bridge while the Pattullo Bridge is out of commission and being repaired,” said Bateman.   

A Get Moving BC volunteer who travelled to the scene of the Patullo Bridge fire late yesterday morning agreed and said it was frightening to contemplate the traffic chaos that will result from the lengthy bridge closure given the already inadequate supply of bridge lanes crossing the Fraser, especially if there is an accident on the Port Mann Bridge during the closure. 

Last September, Get Moving BC released a Bridge Infrastructure Study which demonstrated that the Lower Mainland lags behind other Western Canadian cities when it comes to bridges crossing the Fraser River.  Losing four traffic lanes for a period of one to two months will undoubtedly make the traffic situation in the Lower Mainland worse and it raises anew the spectre of “Total Gridlock” for Greater Vancouver’s transportation system.

Photos of the damaged bridge section taken by a Get Moving BC volunteer yesterday morning are available at the links below.  These photos are also available on the Resources Page of the Get Moving BC website: www.GetMovingBC.com.  The media are free to make use of these photos with attribution to Get Moving BC.

 

The section of the bridge damaged by fire is the 70 to 80 foot stretch at the south end of the bridge where the bridge joins the King George Highway.  Unlike the rest of the bridge structure, this last 70 to 80 foot section is constructed from wooden beams instead of steel and concrete.  According the fire crew on site, this wooden section was scheduled to be replaced in the summer.

Get Moving BC’s Bridge Study from last September showed that the Vancouver area would need to triple and even quadruple the bridge infrastructure crossing the Fraser River just to match the bridge capacity of other cities in Western Canada on a per capita basis.

A copy of Get Moving BC's study, "Bridging the Infrastructure Gap," is available on the "Resources" page of Get Moving BC's website at www.GetMovingBC.com or by clicking on the following link: BRIDGING THE INFRASTRUCTURE GAP.   The study includes graphs, charts and a four page Executive Summary. 

A backgrounder outlining some of the key facts uncovered by Get Moving BC's study is also appended to the end of this media release.

 

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Get Moving BC is dedicated to holding governments accountable for a balanced transportation system and was formed to provide a voice for the majority of Greater Vancouver residents who support improving our roads, bridges and transit systems.    

 
For more information please contact Get Moving BC at 604-678-5567 or by email at info@getmovingbc.com  
 
Online References and Attachments:
-       www.GetMovingBC.com
-       Portland Study: A Comparison of Bridge Capacity: Metro Portland vs. the Lower Mainland - By Get Moving BC - October 2007
-       NRG Research Group: NRG Research Group - Survey of Burnaby Residents Regarding Attitudes Toward Development of the Port Mann Bridge and Highway 1 - September 2007 NRG's independent poll showed that 72% of Burnaby residents support the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and the widening of Highway 1. 

 

Backgrounder:

 

Some key facts uncovered by Get Moving BC's study:

 

o    The Calgary area (population 1.1 million) has nineteen bridges and seventy-five bridge lanes crossing the Bow River: i.e., 170% more bridges and 140% more bridge lanes than there are crossing the Fraser River. 

o    The Edmonton area (population 1.1 million) has eleven bridges and forty-two vehicle lanes crossing the North Saskatchewan River: i.e., 60% more bridges and 35% more bridge lanes than the Vancouver area has crossing the Fraser River.

o    The Winnipeg area (population 720,000) has ten bridges and forty vehicle lanes crossing the Red River: i.e., 43% more bridges and 31% more bridge lanes crossing the Red River than there are crossing the Fraser River.

o    The Portland area (population 1.6 million) has eleven bridges and fifty-four bridge lanes crossing the Willamette River: i.e., 60% more bridges and 75% more bridge lanes crossing the Willamette River than there are crossing the Fraser River.

o    The Saskatoon area (population 240,000) has five bridges and twenty-two traffic lanes crossing the South Saskatchewan River.  Vancouver would need to have 50 bridges and 220 bridge lanes crossing the Fraser River just to match Saskatoon's per capita bridge and bridge lane capacity: that's six to seven times more than we have today

 

Get Moving BC's study also revealed that these other cities will continue to outpace the Vancouver area when it comes to bridge infrastructure because new bridges continue to be built in these other cities:

o    In Edmonton, the six-lane Quesnell Bridge - which currently carries as many as 120,000 vehicles per weekday - is being widened to eight lanes.

o    In Calgary they are about to build a new four-lane bridge across the Bow River to be located north of - and parallel to - the existing four-lane Graves Bridge. Calgary also recently twinned the two-lane Marquis of Lorne Bridge to four lanes.

o    In Saskatoon, they recently widened the Circle Drive Bridge from four lanes to six lanes.  The Province of Saskatchewan also announced funding in June for the construction of a new six-lane bridge south of the city.

o    In Portland they are well underway with a process to replace the obsolete six-lane Interstate Bridge on I-5 with a new ten to twelve-lane bridge across the Columbia River - a new bridge that will dwarf the twinned Port Mann Bridge.