Drivers won’t pay a nickel to cross the new Port Mann Bridge for the first week after its official opening this December.
Transportation Minister Mary Polak said the province wants all drivers to get a chance to try to the new crossing and experience its promised time savings without having to worry about paying the tolls.
She wouldn’t yet reveal the the exact date of the official opening or when the toll-free week will be.
Hundreds of workers were on the bridge deck Thursday for an appreciation barbecue that also marked the Port Mann’s inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s widest bridge.
At just over 65 metres wide, the Port Mann beat the record held by the 48.8-metre Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia.
The free week announcement came a day after the province unveiled its offer of a one-year half-price toll of $1.50 a trip for regular vehicles to encourage drivers to register under the electronic tolling system. Passes will also offer unlimited crossings for the equivalent of 50 trips a month.
The first chance for regular motorists to cross the Port Mann comes Tuesday Sept. 18, when three eastbound lanes will open across the new span as part of construction staging.
The Golden Ears Bridge offered a month of free crossings before its full-priced tolls kicked in in 2009, and use of it has fallen short of forecasts ever since – something the province wants to avoid with the new Port Mann.