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Construction on $1.4B Vancouver Bridge Underway

Friday, July 16, 2021

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In recent reports, it has been recognized that visual progress is being made at Vancouver’s $1.377 billion Pattullo Bridge replacement project, as there has been continuous construction onsite.

The new bridge is slated to open sometime in 2024, at which point the contractor, Fraser Crossing Partners—a joint partnership between Acciona Infrastructure Canada and Aecon Group Inc. —will work to demolish the existing seismically vulnerable structure.

Pattullo Bridge History

Originally constructed in 1937 by Dominion Bridge Company of Montréal, Québec, and designed by William George Swan, the Pattullo Bridge is touted as a continuous metal arch and suspended deck structure, with a rivet-connect warren through truss, complete with metal fixed and approach spans.

The structure’s main span measures 438 feet (133.5 meters), while the total structure measures 4,007 feet. According to, the bridge is one of the largest and oldest bridges remaining in Greater Vancouver, having no major alterations to the arch or deck truss spans.

The bridge was last rehabilitated in 2009 and was later deemed a seismically vulnerable structure, with officials predicting that the bridge would not be able to withstand a modest earthquake, powerful windstorm, or even a ship strike.

Given the severity of the issues even over the interim, an advance seismic and wind warning system was installed on the bridge in early 2020 as a safety measure for the bridge’s remaining short life.

The bridge replacement project was previously a TransLink (the authority who owns and maintains the structure) spearheaded and funded project, but the provincial government decided to take it over to allow the public transit authority to better focus on its transit expansion priorities.

Replacement Action, Next Steps

In May of last year, Fraser Crossing Partners released renderings of the new bridge, revealing a single 170-meter-tall suspension tower, measuring 330 meters long and includes a reduction of four in-water piers, which plan to reduce construction activities in the river, further allowing for safer vessel navigation and a reduced environmental footprint.

Renderings also revealed that the structure would have four wider travel lanes for vehicles—with a concrete barrier separating travel directions—and pathways for pedestrians and cyclists on both sides of the bridge. Once completed, there are also plans to install a suicide prevention fencing system.

In the future, the bridge will also have the ability to be expanded to six travel lanes for vehicles through a bridge deck conversion space for pedestrians and cyclists into an additional travel lane in each direction. Under this configuration, a cantilevered deck would be added to the sides of the bridge to create new replacement pathways for pedestrians and cyclists.

By February of this year, work on the bridge’s foundations was launched. This was reported to have involved crews placing rock for bridge foundation protection and pile installation. During this time, the in-river work was regulated by federal government’s Fisheries and Oceans Canada department to minimize the impact to fish and fish habitat.

At the time, the bridge was expected to open by 2023, however, that was later pushed to 2024 after foundation efforts were temporarily paused to protect fish and habitat, following Fisheries and Oceans Canada regulations.

“Onsite investigative work and permitting processes have taken longer than anticipated due to the complexities of the project and challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” read a bulletin posted by the provincial government at the time. “The project team is reviewing options to mitigate the delay and have the bridge open as early as possible.”

In April, the project officially entered into its construction phase which included on-land bridge foundations in New Westminster and Surrey. Existing roadway network connections on either end of the bridge were also slated to be improved at that time.

Most recently, the Daily Hive reported that visual progress could be witnessed on the structure after the contractor officially resumed work on the foundations of the suspension bridge’s single tower in the Fraser River, initiating the start of major construction in late June.

Once foundation work has commenced, crews are slated to start on the formwork and concrete pours for the tower. This month, on-land foundation work in Surrey will also begin for the bridge approach structures. This will continue throughout 2021 and into 2022 on all foundations for the new bridge.

The provincial government is funding the project, which it will own upon completion, after it made a decision in 2018 to take over the project to allow TransLink to focus on its public transit expansion.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Construction; Contractors; Contracts; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Transportation

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