It was traffic chaos on Metro Vancouver’s highways and bridges Monday, as 80,000 commuters who usually take the Pattullo Bridge were forced to find one of the few alternate routes across the Fraser River.

“The traffic delays were fairly substantial,” TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast said yesterday, minutes after a meeting between police, Surrey city staff and transportation authorities to discuss the unforeseen closure of the Pattullo.

The 71-year-old structure that connects New Westminster to Surrey will likely be closed for a month after an 18-metre-long wooden trestle under its south section caught fire on Sunday.


“We’re moving expeditiously to have the existing structure demolished and hauled away because it has asbestos and creosote. Then we can begin the work of having a replacement structure put in place,” said Prendergast.

“We’re going to be giving periodic updates after each rush hour, trying to learn from each one of these experiences how we can improve them.”

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said the bridge closure exacerbates an already overcrowded transit system.

Maurine Karagianis, NDP transportation critic, said if the province had put in place the expanded transportation needs the community has needed for years, commuters wouldn’t be in this situation.

“(Then) perhaps something could have been put into transportation solutions that would have given us alternative to the bridge,” she said.

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