11/13/2012 01:15 EST | Updated 01/13/2013 05:12 EST

8 lanes of Port Mann Bridge to open Dec. 1

Metro Vancouver's new Port Mann Bridge will open to eight lanes of traffic on Saturday, Dec. 1, the Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry has confirmed.

The bridge will be free for the first week it is open, but then tolling will start on Saturday Dec. 8.

Currently the bridge is already open to eastbound traffic while westbound traffic continues to use the old Port Mann Bridge.

The transition to the new bridge will take place gradually with two lanes shifting to the new bridge on Nov. 17, to allow construction to be completed on the widening of the Cape Horn Interchange at the north end of the bridge.

Dec. 1 will also mark the completion of the widening of Highway 1 east of the bridge, including 20 kilometres of new HOV lanes extending to Langley.

Construction will continue on the project after Dec. 1, to open the remaining two lanes on the 10-lane bridge, and to finish the upgrades between the Cape Horn Interchange and Vancouver.

Deadline for discounts approaching

In September the government announced it was reducing the tolls on the new Port Mann Bridge to $1.50 from $3 for cars — but just for the first year.

Drivers who register for a free windshield decal and tolling account by Feb. 28, 2013 will be guaranteed the half-price introductory toll rate for the first year.

As a further incentive to register, drivers who sign up before Nov. 30, 2012 will receive a $30-credit on their account, equivalent to 20 free trips for passenger vehicles.