View of the new 10-lane Port Mann Bridge from the air.

Drivers get free week to try new Port Mann Bridge

New 10-lane span takes Guinness record as world's widest

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.

Just Posted

Location eyed for possible collector well

New estimate puts price tag of new water source at $81 million

Police investigate sexual assault of teen girl in Abbotsford

Incident occurred Wednesday night along Oriole Crescent

Bad behaviour to lead to expulsion at Abbotsford council

New rules lay out how a member can be booted from a meeting

More extreme weather beds needed in Mission

Council allocates another $5,000 to help keep people safe, warm and dry

Input sought for road works for Maple Ridge

Consultation on Haney Bypass upgrades

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

Christopher Garnier appealing murder conviction in death of off-duty cop

Jury found Garnier guilty in December, rejecting his claim she died accidentally during rough sex

Transportation watchdog must revisit air passenger obesity complaint

Canadian Transportation Agency must take new look at Gabor Lukacs’ complaint against Delta Air Lines

Gas plants verdict coming down today; ex-premier’s top aides to learn fate

Verdict to be delivered on senior staff to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty

5 to start your day

Smoking ban on BC Ferries starts Monday, IHIT uses new strategy in murder investigation and more

Police investigating after body found in East Vancouver

The body was discovered in a parked vehicle

Rock slide closes Hwy. 1 south of Ashcroft until Friday afternoon

A rock slide Thursday afternoon near Spences Bridge closed the highway in both directions

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

Most Read