Big changes coming to Port Mann bridge, Cape Horn interchange
Motorists will get their first chance to drive on the new Port Mann Bridge later this month when three lanes of Highway 1 eastbound will be transitioned from the old bridge to the new crossing on Sept. 18.
The full eight-lane opening will not be completed until December, however, with two more lanes expected to be added in 2013 following the demolition of the on-ramps leading up to the old bridge.
Construction crews will also work to shift Lougheed Highway eastbound to a new and final alignment south of Highway 1 and a new overpass connecting westbound bridge traffic to the Lougheed Highway is expected to be open on Sept. 19.
But the busiest weekend for construction crews will likely be Sept. 22 to 23, when workers will perform what Transportation and Investment Corporation CEO Mike Proudfoot calls an "engineering marvel".
That is when the overpass — the longest in the entire project — is completed and opened in a single weekend, connecting the Lougheed Highway westbound to Highway 1 eastbound.
"On that Monday morning, this work will allow drivers to do in seconds what today takes minutes," Proudfoot said during a press conference at the construction site Wednesday morning. "This is critical work and we worked hard to allow this to happen in the shortest period of time while keeping the road safe for workers and motorists."
While the new bridge is one of the more visible components of the construction project, Proudfoot said much of the Highway 1 construction on the approaches to the bridge is critical.
He called the Cape Horn interchange construction a "mega project within a mega project" and said that it will be an important part of reducing travel times for drivers.
But the run-up to the December opening will not be without challenges for Highway 1 motorists.
Proudfoot is asking drivers to use caution when travelling through the construction site and encourages people to avoid the area altogether during the crucial Sept. 22 weekend and the last weekend of the month.
"We know this is some inconvenience and we apologize for that," he said. "But we are asking everyone hang in there for a few more months. A fast Port Mann bridge is on the way."
A tolling framework for the new bridge is still in the works, he added, noting that tolls will not be in place until the December opening.
Proudfoot said the construction that is taking place at the Cape Horn interchange and on the Port Mann bridge is comparable to some of the largest infrastructure projects in North America. He noted that more than 120,000 vehicles cross the Port Mann bridge each day, 15% higher than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which has one more lane.
After the first eight lanes of the bridge are open in December, work will immediately begin to remove the on-ramps and approaches to the old structure.
Crews will begin the piece-by-piece demolition of the old Port Mann in 2013, the removal of which will allow for another two lanes for a total of ten lanes on the new crossing.
Sept. 16 — Lougheed Highway eastbound will be shifted to its final alignment.
Sept. 18 — Highway 1 eastbound traffic will shift from the old Port Mann Bridge to the new crossing.
Sept. 19 — A new overpass connecting Highway 1 westbound to Lougheed Highway eastbound will open.
Sept. 24 — A new overpass connecting Lougheed Highway westbound to Highway 1 eastbound will open.