09/14/2012 12:05 EDT

Port Mann Bridge Free First Week


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

B.C. Bridges