The first week of tolling on the new Port Mann Bridge will be free when it officially opens in December, said Transportation Minister Mary Polak.

On the same day as that announcement, B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong revealed a budget deficit due to falling natural gas revenues. The loss in revenue means the province has to find $1.1 billion over the next three years elsewhere.

The news does not bode well for public sector workers who have held one-day walkouts in their pursuit of a wage increase. De Jong said the government will be reviewing its current negotiating mandate with the public servants, as well as cut spending and freeze hiring to try to balance the books.

But on Wednesday, the province slashed tolls for the Port Mann Bridge’s first year, from $3 to $1.50 for a passenger vehicle’s one-way trip. Drivers have to register to be eligible for the discounts. The finance department admitted the impact of that cut is $108 million over three years, reported the CBC’s Stephen Smart.

A ceremony on Thursday saw Guinness World Records confirm the Port Mann as the world’s widest bridge. The previous world was held by the 48.8 metre-wide Sydney Harbour Bridge. At 65.06 metres wide, the Port Mann Bridge beats the previous record by 16.26 metres.

With files from The Canadian Press

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  • Lions Gate Bridge, Vancouver

    The Lions Gate Bridge, built in 1938, carries commuters from Vancouver to the North Shore communities of North Vancouver and West Vancouver.

  • Capilano Suspension Bridge, North Vancouver

    The suspension bridge is a tourist attraction, carrying people on a wobbly walk 70 metres above the Capilano River.

  • Golden Ears Bridge, Maple Ridge, Langley

    Motorists must pay a $4.90 toll to drive the Golden Ears bridge, while those driving small trucks must pay $7.10 and those driving large trucks must pay $10.05.

  • Port Mann Bridge, Coquitlam/Surrey

    The Port Mann Bridge, at a width of 65 metres, will be the widest in the world.

  • Burrard Bridge, Vancouver

    The Burrard Bridge spans False Creek, connecting Vancouver's downtown with the community of Kitsilano.

  • William R. Bennett Bridge, Kelowna

    This five-lane bridge carries Highway 97 commuters across Okanagan Lake.

  • Brown Bridge, Princeton

    The Brown Bridge that takes drivers between Princeton and Tulameen once featured in the Burt Reynolds film "Malone."

  • Stoney Creek Bridge, Revelstoke area

    You'll have to take the Rocky Mountaineer train to view this beauty, which is located up on the side of Mount Shaughnessy in the Rogers Pass area of B.C.'s Selkirk Mountains.

  • Kawkawa Bridge, Hope

    The Kawkawa Bridge in Hope featured heavily in the Sylvester Stallone film "First Blood," which introduced the world to his famous "Rambo" character.

  • Myra Canyon Bridge, Kelowna

    Heath Fletcher rides his bicycle across trestle #15 in the Myra Canyon in Okanagan Mountain Park near Kelowna , B.C. on Thursday, June 19, 2008. The Okanagan fire of September 2003 destroyed 12 wooden trestles, which were rebuilt to historical specifications.

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