Drivers are being asked to steer clear of the Pattullo Bridge this weekend as TransLink crews work to repair pot holes on the aging structure.

The transportation network said the bridge will be closed to all vehicle traffic between 9 p.m. on Friday and 5 a.m. on Monday.

“Pot holes that occurred last winter have been temporarily patched and the upcoming closure is required to better repair the underlying concrete deck,” TransLink said in a news release.

Emergency vehicles will still have access to the bridge, which connects Surrey and New Westminster. The sidewalk will also remain open for pedestrians.

The Pattullo Bridge is used by approximately 80,000 vehicles a day. That means this weekend’s closure could cause major delays on surrounding bridges and highways.

Drivers can use alternate Fraser River crossings such as the Alex Fraser Bridge and the Port Mann Bridge.

Aging bridge to be replaced

TransLink said closures like this will become more common if the aging bridge isn’t replaced soon.

“It’s the age of the bridge and the winter certainly accelerated things there,” said TransLink construction manager Bob Moore.

While speaking to reporters on Friday, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner also called the structure “well past its best before date.”

The transportation authority is planning on building a new, tolled Pattullo Bridge just north and upstream of the existing structure.

It will feature four lanes, separate pedestrian and cyclist paths and “improved community connections” to help reduce congestion, according to the transportation authority.

TransLink said it is completing design work on the new bridge and conducting and environmental assessment.

With support from the province, the project is expected to break ground in 2019. The new bridge could open in 2023. In September, a report to TransLink said the 80-year-old bridge must either be replaced or closed by then.

The report, which was released just weeks after the Pattullo had undergone months of renovations, said the aging bridge may not be able to withstand an earthquake or even a powerful windstorm, calling it “TransLink’s most urgent major infrastructure risk.”

Premier-designate John Horgan has made replacing the bridge one of his top priorities—a promising sign for the future of the project.

“We’re ready to go. We’re anxious next week to get started with the conversations with the new provincial government and put a full financing package together,” TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond told CTV News.

But the NDP-Green pact that toppled the Premier Christy Clark’s Liberal government also aims to end road tolls in the province, a goal that directly contradicts one of the key features of the financial model for the new bridge.

“Clearly, the tolling policy that was part of the NDP’s campaign…affects how we finance the bridge,” Desmond said. “That’s why it’s all the more urgent to have that conversation. I’m confidence that the new government understands the urgency of this project.”

The NDP, too, said it is determined to find a solution.

“John Horgan is committed to getting people out of gridlock,” the party said in a statement Friday. “He will work with mayors and TransLink to get moving on projects like the Pattullo Bridge replacement.”

Horgan’s NDP minority government will be sworn in on Tuesday.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV’s Maria Weisgarber