Repurposing Pattullo Bridge the logical choice

Instead of tearing a bridge down, why not adapt it for other uses?

It wasn’t long ago when we were finished using a consumer product it was guaranteed to end up in the landfill. Today, we better understand how this type of activity can harm the environment and is unsustainable in the long run.

That’s why most Metro Vancouver cities have adopted the “3R” principles of reduce, reuse and recycle. Perhaps it is time for those same cities to also add repurpose into the mix.

In Vancouver they are debating the dismantling of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Street viaducts. Meanwhile, in New Westminster and Surrey the topic of what to do with the existing Pattullo Bridge is making waves.

On June 6, I am pleased to be co-hosting a community forum along with fellow New Westminster resident and 24 hours online editor Keith MacKenzie to discuss what should happen next to the 75-year-old Pattullo Bridge.

More information on the Pattullo community forum

We’ve been inspired by what we’ve seen other cities accomplish with their timeworn and decaying infrastructure.

24 Hours Vancouver

In New York, they took an old unused railway and converted it into a wonderful linear park, which has become both a local and tourist attraction. In Oregon, the City of Salem converted the historic Union Street Railroad Bridge and its associated timber trestle into a facility for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorized users.

If you were to think of the overall bridge surface of the Pattullo as prime Metro Vancouver real estate, it may help to jump-start your imagination.

What if it were converted into a two-lane bridge with parking meters as a revenue generator? Add into the mix a couple of bridge deck restaurants near the apex, which feature breathtaking views of the North Shore and Fraser River. At each end it could feature a special bungee jump station and unique glass bottom walkway. Now, throw in a dedicated pedestrian and cycle path for good measure.

However, if the Pattullo is going to remain part of the landscape, it is critical that TransLink involve the private sector. They should also consider the adaptive re-use of the old bridge as part of the overall plan to build a new one.

That’s why the real estate on the Pattullo should be leased for $1 to the most creative private sector bidder prepared to convert it into a job-generating and eco-friendly piece of infrastructure.

The Pattullo debate doesn’t need to deteriorate into a divisive and partisan battle. But in order to prevent that, TransLink better find some real wins for two communities who see nothing in the current plans but more traffic on their roads.

See also: 24 Hours report by Keith Mackenzie. See Keith's additional report on how bridges can be adapted (PDF).

Details:

Where: La Perla Ballroom – River Market at Westminster Key (second floor near escalators). Plenty of parking and right next to New Westminster SkyTrain station.

Date: Wednesday, June 6th

Time: 7-9 pm

Guest Speakers:

Gordon Price, Director, The City Program at SFU

Jerry Behl, Transportation Engineer, City of New Westminster

Prof. Anthony Perl, Simon Fraser Univer

TransLink (invited…but they declined to attend)

– Post by Daniel

Vancouver mayor drums his way into land dispute
A crappy way to treat a neighbourhood

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  • Steven Forth

    Did TransLink comment on why they are not planning to attend? Great project Daniel, hope to see some exciting ideas come from this.

    • Daniel Fontaine

      Steven they didn’t provide a reason why they weren’t attending. But did say they wanted a summary of our discussion to be sent to them.

  • Thought of The Evening

    “Many can sketch a Bridge. Very few can build one, though.”

    Leonardo Da Vinci, said “There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.”

    It seems to me, that those who can sketch, chose to attend the debate. Those who can build, chose not to.
    So, what gives? What’s the purpose then?

    “What if it were converted into a two-lane bridge with parking meters as a revenue generator? Add into the mix a couple of bridge deck restaurants near the apex, which feature breathtaking views of the North Shore and Fraser River. At each end it could feature a special bungee jump station and unique glass bottom walkway. Now, throw in a dedicated pedestrian and cycle path for good measure.”

    Jules Verne called. He said, “Go for it!”
    No, but seriously.
    The only way parking on the bridge could generate any revenue is if it would come in the form of “enforced city towing and fines”… if you catch my drift.

    I’ll say it again. Let the Patullo go with dignity.
    “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
    But what do I know, right?

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

    • Ned

      If only the “words” could “talk”… 🙂
      “Many can sketch a Bridge. Very few can build one, though.” – Glissando Remmy
      I can’t get over how simple and profound this quote could be. Thanks, Glissy!

  • gman

    Has anybody looked at the cost of maintaining this giant structure ? Do you really think you could get the private sector to fall for this pipe dream without some clause saying the taxpayer will guarantee the foundation and the structure? It would seem that GR is right again when he said “It seems to me, that those who can sketch, chose to attend the debate. Those who can build, chose not to.”.

  • Ken Lawson

    Just bring it down and relocate further west, if you build new, the current road system cannot handle a new bridge, it cannot handle it now!

  • Steven Forth

    I didn’t know GR and gman were bridge engineers and that they had already done the investigation and analysis on the structure and cost. Are these public docs? If so I hope you can share them.

    • Ned

      You don’t have to be a Bridge Engineer, Steven in order to have commonsense. If you need a Bridge engineer’s POV pick up a phone and call one! And what if GR or gman are falling actually in the architecture/ engineering/ urban design category? I read many of Glissando’s posts closely enough to realize that he is in the least very knowledgeable, great research skills, or else… he has excellent interns and/ or researchers.
      Remember when a few weeks back you suggested a parallel between Patullo & London Bridge? Hilarious!

      This was my response:

      “After reading this discussion (you, Gliss and Pat) I did my own digging and guess what?
      Yes! I start appreciating Glissando Remmy’s comments more and more!
      Steven, check your data… London Bridge total length 269m/ 9m (NINE) clearance 9m/ Built in 1973 !
      Patullo bridge length 1221m/ 45.7m (FORTYFIVE.7) clearance/ Built in 1937!
      Do you at least have the courtesy to see the big disparity? Patullo it’s not kids play.
      The bridge should come down when its built life is over. Unless you guys, want to keep the suicide rate for jumpers … steady.”

      Take it from here if you wish.

      • Steven Forth

        Sure Ned. Take into account the cost of dismantling a bridge, the cost of maintenance and restructuring, the economic potential, and see what, if anything, will work. None of us has enough information to come to judgment on this yet, not me, not Daniel, and certainly not GR or gman, who dismiss it out of hand as it does not fit their world view. GR’s comments on NYC’s Linear Park show how completely ignorant he is of this type of project (which was also many years past its design date and was in very poor shape when that project started). In any case, these design exercises can lead to new ideas, unexpected outcomes, new people meeting each other … many new potentials can emerge. Thy can be valuable even if never applied.
        And I was referring to the Old London Bridge, the one that had buildings and shops. Thought this was obvious from context. Sorry to have confused you.

      • Andrew Browne

        Gee, do you think maybe the cost of maintenance drops abruptly when you stop cars and trucks from driving over it? Suddenly the bridge needs to carry less load.

        • Ron

          Not when the piers are undergoing scour and literally washing away. The enemy is not the traffic, it’s the Fraser River. And it’s not going to stop flowing.

          I know I sure wouldn’t want to be on that bridge in even the kind of moderate earthquakes that have hit nearby Seattle in the last decade. The kind that Sandwell engineering says could cause catastropic damage (right on translinks webpage – no need to call!)

    • gman

      Steven to bad you cant think as fast as you type,you sound more like a sock puppet every day. http://www.translink.ca/en/Be-Part-of-the-Plan/Roads-Bridges-and-Goods-Movement/New-Pattullo-Bridge-Project/Replacement-Factors.aspx And yes Steven I have close to fifty years experience in construction,everything from refineries to towers and a couple bridges also.But that aside even a six year old would realize a 75 year old bridge with a 50 year design life will cost a fortune to bring it up to today’s standards.

      • Steven Forth

        gman, you may want to look up the definition of ‘sock puppet’. I assume you are using it in the Wikipedia meaning. Steven Forth happens to be my name and I am easy to find on the web. Sorry to disappoint you.

        “A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term—a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock—originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an internet community who spoke to, or about himself while pretending to be another person.[1] The term now includes other uses of misleading online identities, such as those created to praise, defend or support a third party or organization.[2] A significant difference between the use of a pseudonym[3] and the creation of a sockpuppet is that the sockpuppet poses as an independent third-party unaffiliated with the puppeteer.”

        • gman

          Jeez Steven your doing it again.

  • Ron

    Worst idea ever. Not because re-using a bridge as something else is bad (might have worked for Port Mann had they though of it). It’s because the Putello is literally falling down!

    A quick check of the facts and reports would tell you that the bridge is vulnerable to collapse in even a modest earthquake and that to fix it would require extremely expensive and potentially unviable in river work.

    The reason it’s getting replaced is that it’s literally falling down. Did you forget that a part of it already did not too long ago?

    • Terry m

      Good call Ron!
      But why stand in the way of blah, blah, blah, a coffe donut chit chat, we’re the greatest minds in the region could show their ridiculous proposal.

      “Many can sketch a Bridge. Very few can build one, though.”
      Glissando Remmy a few posts back phrased beautifully.
      Nuff said.