Eighty years ago today, on November 15, 1937, Premier “Duff” Pattullo’s namesake bridge opened to traffic crossing the Fraser River. Built in just a year, the Pattullo Bridge replaced the old two-deck bridge, known today as the New Westminster Rail Bridge.
The Pattullo Bridge was originally tolled at 25¢ per crossing, but was removed in 1952.
A stroll down memory lane
The Pattullo Bridge was built in 1936 by the Dominion Bridge Company Ltd., under the direction of the provincial Department of Public Works. It’s span, including approaches, was 7,800 feet and 46 feet wide. At the time, the Pattullo Bridge boasted “…ample accommodation for four lanes of motor traffic, with a 6-foot sidewalk for pedestrians. The bridge is planned not only to meet all requirements of today but to anticipate traffic expansion for years to come.”
Construction costs totalled $4 million, including the main contract, cement, purchasing right of way, realigning and resurfacing of highways. Construction materials included 5,300 tons of structural steel, 1,600 tons of reinforcing steel, 62,000 cubic yards of concrete, 180,000 cubic yards of earth excavation, 100,000 barrels of cement, and 2,000,000 board-feet of timber!
Fun Fact! The cement and lumber used were entirely of British Columbia manufacture, while the steel was rolled in Canadian and British mills and fabricated in Vancouver.
The opening of the bridge back in 1937 was celebrated with a luncheon held at the now historic Queen’s Park Arena in New Westminster. Some highlights from that momentous meal included clear beef broth sherry and cold ox tongue. You can read more about this historical day in our Buzzer Blog post from 2009.
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Over the years
In 80 years, the Pattullo Bridge has raked up quite the colourful past, most notably the fire of 2009 which closed the bridge for nearly a month. In more recent years we’ve seen consultation after consultation, rehabilitation and inspection closures—all part of bringing Metro Vancouver a new span in the near future.
So from all of us here at TransLink, Happy Birthday Pattullo Bridge!
Author: Sarah Kertcher