12/01/2012 01:39 EST | Updated 01/31/2013 05:12 EST

Port Mann Bridge Opens To 8 Lanes Of Traffic


The Port Mann Bridge officially opened to eight lanes of traffic on Saturday.

According to the province, the new structure will cut commute times and allow for the first regular transit service across the bridge in 25 years.

"As we officially open the Port Mann Bridge we are eliminating one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in British Columbia," Premier Christy Clark said in a release.

"After years of waiting, drivers get to enjoy a faster, more efficient commute and will have more time to spend with their family instead of sitting in an idling car."

Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender says the bridge opening is significant.

"It's going to improve commute times exponentially," he said.

"A lot of people don't realize there's more people now going east across the Port Mann than there is going west. So it shows that we're bringing jobs out to Langley. And to see that first bus going across this bridge was huge."

The new crossing replaces the old four-lane bridge that opened in 1964, and there was plenty of opposition to the new project by groups who lobbied for improved public transit.

The $1.50-toll for the bridge bridge that spans the Fraser River won’t be collected for another week. Drivers who sign up for a free windshield decal and tolling account by Feb. 28 will receive a half-price introductory rate for the first year.

Construction will continue on the new bridge and along the Highway 1 corridor through next year to complete the crossing to its full 10-lane capacity.

Clark says that will make the Port Mann the widest bridge in the world.

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