Eight overhead digital message signs along Highway 1 in Metro Vancouver now display live travel time estimates to key points along the corridor.
By showing what are usually shorter travel times over the tolled Port Mann Bridge, government officials hope more drivers will pay up and stop taking an alternate free route across the Fraser River.
“This travel time information will reinforce the benefits of the Port Mann Bridge and confirm what many drivers already know – they’re saving significant time by choosing Highway 1,” Transportation Investment Corp. president Irene Kerr said.
Transportation ministry officials say travel time surveys show regular Port Mann users save 40 minutes a day – more than three hours a week – compared to compared to battling traffic through New Westminster to take the untolled Pattullo Bridge.
A ceremony staged Thursday officially ended construction of the $3.3-billion Port Mann/Highway 1 project.
“Without the builders and visionaries behind the Port Mann / Highway 1 project, drivers would still be bumper-to-bumper in Western Canada’s worst bottleneck,” Stone said, thanking workers for their efforts and drivers for their patience.
Earlier this summer, direct connection lanes opened that link Surrey and Coquitlam with no need to merge with other Highway 1 traffic.
A multi-use path also opened on the bridge giving cyclists a new route across the Fraser River (see video below.)
The new toll bridge opened in December of 2012, but lane construction continued since then along the freeway corridor.
Registered drivers of standard vehicles initially paid $1.50 to cross the bridge thanks to an introductory half-price discount. But the $3 base tolls kicked in a year later, and they were raised to $3.15 per crossing this summer.
Despite the touted travel time savings, the number of drivers paying to cross the bridge has not met the province’s initial forecasts, and the TI Corp.’s annual operating losses have climbed above $100 million a year.
Traffic counts over the Port Mann actually fell 3.9 per cent last year, but are running five per cent higher so far in 2015.
TI Corp. officials insist they expect tolls to pay off the project costs on schedule by 2050.
The old Port Mann Bridge is still being dismantled and that work is to be finished later this fall.