Bridge crew connects Port Mann crossing
Construction crews closed the final gap on the new Port Mann Bridge Thursday, connecting Surrey and Coquitlam. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
Following five years of construction and $3.3 billion in costs, construction crews closed the final gap on the new Port Mann Bridge Thursday, connecting Surrey and Coquitlam.
After walking over the newly lowered deck panels at the centre of the span, B.C. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom told reporters he expects the new Port Mann crossing to support buses once opened in December.
He emphasized plans for rapid bus service for the new bridge are on hold - and not cancelled - as the province works with TransLink to secure long-term funding for transit across the span. This would make it the first time in two decades public buses have carry passengers across that section of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Lekstrom added the province is still determining how tolls would be implemented on the bridge, but he intends to use "world-class technology" to ensure the crossing is as easy as possible.
Motorists still must pay full tolls - ranging from $1.50 to $9 depending on the type of the vehicle - despite the fact only eight of the bridge's 10 lanes will open this winter.
Lekstrom said the remaining two lanes would open in 2013 once the approaches on the old bridge were dismantled.
He appeared in awe of what is being described as the world's widest bridge and the second longest cable-stayed bridge in North America.
"When you look at this structure, it is truly a marvel."
Mike Proudfoot, CEO of Transportation Investment Corporation - the Crown-owned operation overseeing the construction - said 120,000 vehicles pass over the Port Mann each day.
He expects similar numbers for the new crossing, despite New Westminster City Council's concern about traffic diverting to the toll-free Pattullo Bridge.