TransLink says the aging bridge is unlikely to withstand a moderate earthquake or ship collision, does not meet current roadway guidelines for lane width, and lacks adequate sidewalks and barriers.
The bridge has also been the site of many deadly head-on collisions in recent years because there is no divider between its four narrow lanes.
The current list of alternatives put forward for the public to consider includes various combinations of the following options:
- Remove the bridge.
- Rehabilitate the bridge for bikes and pedestrians only.
- Rehabilitate it as a two-, three- or four-lane bridge.
- Replacing it with a two-, four- or eight-lane bridge.
- Replacing it with a four-lane tunnel.
- Building a new crossing up to six-lanes, upriver at Sapperton Bar.
- Building a new four-lane bridge downriver at Tree Island.
TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis says they're looking for a plan that offers the lowest cost, but also supports the rest of the TransLink's plan in the region.
"In isolation, for sure, you look at lowest cost option or one that meets the long term demands. But in all these investments there's a bunch of competing demands, from our perspective it's what is the best thing for the overall network."
Jarvis says replacing the bridge could cost half a billion more than some of the alternatives. He expects the two dozen various combinations of all the options will be whittled down by the fall, with a final decision made by spring of 2014.
People can attend six open houses and four small group meetings and submit feedback until the end of June.
The 75-year-old bridge, which connects New Westminster and Surrey, is one of the oldest in the Lower Mainland. About 73,000 vehicles per day use the crossing, which is under the jurisdiction of TransLink.
TransLink approved a plan to replace it with a tolled crossing in 2008, and in 2010 estimated the cost of a replacement could hit $1.2 billion.
In 2009 the south end of the bridge was damaged by fire, but it was repaired with a temporary bridge left over from the Canada Line construction.