I’ve written enough about the Pattullo Bridge over the years that this aging decrepit structure has warranted its own tag; from asbestos in the deck, possible tolls, to lanes that are dangerously slim. Early this morning a fire broke out under its deck, forcing those who depend on it as a Fraser River crossing to take detours.
The Pattullo Bridge is closed after a fire affecting its supports on the Surrey side, raising fears it could be shut for months. Bridge engineers are now inspecting the damage. TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said nobody should plan to use the bridge tomorrow. He said the worst case scenario is the bridge could be closed for months if major structural repairs are required. [Surrey Leader]
A wooden section near the south end of the bridge caught fire. According to TransLink, an arsonist may have been responsible. TransLink engineers examined the damaged trestle to determine if it must be replaced, and Hardie is now saying it “looks like an extended closure.” TransLink is meeting this afternoon with RCMP and transport ministry officials to develop a plan for the area. That will be followed by an announcement from TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast and Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon at 4:30 p.m. [The Province]
To say that this will disrupt the commuting situation is an understatement. 80,000 commuters will be diverted to the Port Mann and Alex Fraser, while hopefully there are some extra SkyTrains running to help get tens of thousands of people to work and back. The Pattullo is an enormous part of our region’s transportation infrastructure and it’s pretty terrible that even after over a dozens deaths due to its narrow lanes and crumbling structure there are still no signs of its replacement on the horizon.
Update: Experts are projecting that the closure will last “from 4 to 6 weeks”. No bikes will be allowed on SkyTrain to accommodate the extra passengers and trains will run earlier, from 4:30am.
Update: Commuters should look at transit as an option. This morning I heard that SkyTrains were no more full than usual however it took about 1.5 hours to go only a few blocks in heavy traffic for the other bridges and routes.