The ten-lane cable-stayed Port Mann Bridge, which provides an elevated link between Coquitlam and Surrey, was the widest bridge in the world when it opened in 2012. Its thick web of cables and tall concrete towers form an undeniably modern silhouette, especially in comparison to the old Port Mann Bridge, which was fully removed in October 2015 after 51 years of service. Named after the community that the southern end partially transects, the original bridge would enter the national history books as the most expensive piece of highway in the country at the time of its inauguration. 

The old Port Mann Bridge in 2009, image by Flickr user Jason Sanders via Creative Commons

The old three-span bridge featured an orthotropic deck that carried five lanes of the Trans-Canada Highway. At a length of 2,093 metres, it was the longest arch bridge in Canada and the third-longest in the world when it was completed in 1964. In 2006, the provincial government introduced the Gateway Program, a regional transportation project designed to address the growing scourge of traffic congestion. It was clear the Port Mann Bridge would need to be altered, enhanced, or supplemented in some way to meet future demands. Original plans called for its twinning by building a second bridge next to it. But officials would abandon that idea and instead favour a complete removal and replacement project.

The old Port Mann Bridge in 2008, image by Flickr user Brendan DeBrincat via Creative Commons

Work on removing the old bridge started in December 2012, with the road deck being disassembled first, followed by the bridge approach's girders and finally, the steel arch. Bus service was reintroduced over the new bridge for the first time in 20 years and a multi-use pedestrian and bicycle path would open on Canada Day 2015. As measured between the two 75-metre-tall towers, the main span is 470 metres long, making it the second-longest cable-stayed bridge in the western hemisphere. It would officially overtake the Sydney Harbour Bridge as the world's widest long-span bridge on September 18, 2012. While the iconic Sydney bridge held the record for 80 years, the Port Mann Bridge would only secure it for months, as the 2013 opening of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge eastern span replacement would knock the B.C. span off its pedestal. 

The new bridge approaching completion, image by Flickr user judy_and_ed via Creative Commons

The bridge's tolling system has been making headlines recently as the province's political parties campaign for the May election. The B.C. Liberals have pledged to cap tolls at a maximum $500 per commuter, while the NDP has promised to eliminate tolls on the bridge altogether.

The new bridge in operation, while the old one is removed, image by Dgarte via Wikimedia Commons

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