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Port Mann Bridge reaches milestone

Centre gap of new tolled crossing closed, opening set for December

The new Port Mann Bridge is now structurally complete.

The last gap in the bridge deck of the new tolled crossing was closed Thursday and Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom was among the first to walk across from Coquitlam to Surrey.

The electronically tolled bridge opens to traffic in December.

"Today we crossed the new Port Mann Bridge on foot, but it won't be long before cars are making the crossing and drivers get to enjoy a faster, more efficient commute," Lekstrom said. "It's going to be a huge benefit to the public here in the Lower Mainland."

The steel girders that closed the centre span were lifted and fixed in place earlier this week. Concrete deck panels were lowered into position using gantry cranes positioned at the end of the centre span. Soon, crews will start pouring concrete to cast those panels in place.

Over the coming months, crews will place expansion joints between bridge segments, complete waterproofing and pave the new deck to have it ready for traffic later this year.

Paving is already underway on the Surrey Approach, where the deck was completed in April.

The Coquitlam Approach had its final segment placed earlier this week, marking another significant milestone.

The deck panels at the bridge's centre are the last to be placed to complete the bridge to its initial eight-lane configuration on opening day. The final two lanes of the full 10-lane bridge will be opened later in 2013. The old Port Mann Bridge will be dismantled in 2014.

The transportation ministry says drivers can expect to save up to an hour from their round-trip daily commutes.

The northeast section of the South Fraser Perimeter Road is to open at the same time as the new Port Mann, offering motorists an untolled alternate route via the Pattullo Bridge and the perimeter road to and from Highway 1 at 176 Street.