Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver BC open and tolling with three protocols

December 13, 2012

2012/12/12: Vancouver British Columbia's splendid new Port Mann Bridge opened to traffic December 1, and they began collecting tolls this week (Dec 10.) The bridge over the Fraser River carries Highway 1 which is the main east-west route in the metro area as well as the main drag through the mountains and east. The new 10-lane toll bridge (8 lanes being active initially) replaces the old untolled five lane thru-arch span from 1964, which will be taken down.

The extra lanes have dramatically reduced congestion through removal of a bottleneck. Average  daily traffic at the old bridge was put at 127,000 with congested conditions said to be present 13 to 14 hours a day weekdays.

As well as the much larger bridge, lanes are being added and interchange additions and improvements made along 37km, 23 miles of Highway 1.  The whole project is known as PMH1 short for Port Mann (Bridge)/Highway One.

Construction is a design-build contract for $2.46 billion with a Kiewit Flatiron joint venture. Lead engineers were Hatch Mott MacDonald and MMM.

The bridge has a pair of central towers supporting two cable stayed roadway decks of segmental box girder construction with a main span of 1540ft, 470m. Total bridge length is 6630ft, 2020m. Clearance under for shipping is 138ft, 42m.

The bridge is touted in British Columbia as "the widest in the world" at 213ft, 65m (see comment at the end.) It is designed for 10 traffic lanes organized with 2x2 lane local outside roadways for connecting communities on either side of the river and 2x3 lanes for true Highway One (H1) longer distance traffic, the inner lanes each direction of the inner roadways being for registered high occupancy vehicles.


Tolling is by an Sanef/Egis joint venture company Trans Canada Free Flow Tolling under contract with the province's Transportation Investment Corporation which financed the bridge and takes the traffic and revenue risk/reward.

System integration was contracted with CS ITS unit (CORRECTION) subsequently bought by Sanef. (CS ITS had its name changed to Sanef-ITS Technologies in recognition of its new ownership in October 2012.)

They have a huge 10 lane plus shoulders all-electronic toll point near the approaches to the bridge with 3M/Sirit ID 6204 multi protocol readers, and overhead vehicle tracking and classification, plus cameras with optical character recognition.

British Columbia has three transponder-reader protocols:

- California Title 21 tags issued mainly for the Golden Ears Bridge that opened 2009 and is located upriver of the Port Mann Bridge

- ASTMv6 a variant of then IAG protocols used in trucks for PrePass weigh & inspection station bypass and as toll transponders in vehicles from Ontario (407ETR) and Minnesota

- ISO 18000 6C sticker tags being issued under the brand TReO (see nearby)

These tags or transponders are being referred to in the Vancouver areas 'decals' which they pronounce 'deckle' with a soft 'e' and as one syllable.

Readers at the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges are multi-protocol - TransCore Encompass-6 at the Ears and 3M/Sirit ID6204s at the Mann. So despite three transponder protocols they have province-wide interoperability through the use of multi protocol readers, plus some capability to extend those arrangements.

Washington state to the south has adopted the 6C sticker tags for its toll facilities, and Colorado and Utah too, so there is the technical basis for interoperability across the border.

Introductory half toll with TReO transponder or 'deckle' to locals

The official toll for cars at the Port Mann Bridge is $3.00 and there is an unlimited trip monthly pass for $150. But for the first three months (to Feb 28, 2013) motorists with the transponder or 'deckle' get half off - a toll of $1.50/trip and $75/month unlimited trips.

That lasts through 30 November 2013 when the full toll cuts in.

The effect of the half-off promotion has been to encourage a very rapid uptake of transponders - over 500,000 have gone out, and a spokesman told us that this week already three-quarters of the bridge traffic has the transponder with only a quarter needing to be video tolled.

Registered HOV vehicles (2 or more occupants) pay tolls but with a discount of 25% in peak hours.

Tractor trailer tolls are $9.00 with no introductory rates or unlimited use passes. The big rigs do get a 50% discount traveling at night between 9pm and 5am. 

Other trucks or cars pulling trailers (<6m long, <2.3m height) are an intermediate classification with a $4.50 toll and a $300 unlimited trips monthly pass.

Motorists without transponders can prepay by identifying their vehicle by license plate number online, at kiosks, or by telephone to a customer service center. If they don't pay in seven days they're liable to the toll plus a $2.30 processing fee.

Was Guinness imbibing too much? Americans may still have "the widest"!

This claim by Vancouverites that they have in the Port Mann Bridge the "widest bridge in the world" at 10 lanes and 65m, 213ft is questionable, despite the fact they say the Guinness Book of Records has endorsed their claim.

Mr Guinness may have been imbibing too much of his famous Irish brew?

The Driscoll Bridge which carries the Garden State Parkway over the Raritan River in New Jersey is 15 lanes and has deck in three roadways totaling 66.1m, 217ft width. That's a whole meter or 3.5ft wider than this newie Port Mann Bridge in BC.

And on our home turf the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (WWB) carrying the Capital Beltway over the Potomac River near Alexandria Virginia is 12 lanes. And with the extravagance that befits this city it has a total deck width of 74.9m, 246ft.

So here in the US capital we can lay claim to a bridge nearly 10m, 32ft wider than the BC-touted  "the widest bridge in the world."

And on the WWB we have bascules to boot!

We we must concede that several of America's grand bridges are smaller in deck width than the Port Mann's reported width.

They use it for extra lanes at the expense of shoulder:

PANYNJ's George Washington Bridge 14 lanes has a bridge width of 119ft, 36m carrying eight traffic lanes on top and underneath it a narrower deck with 6 lanes, total deck for the top 8 lanes is only 90ft, 27.5m and the 6 lanes on the lower level about 70ft, 21.5m so 14 lanes have total deck of only about 160ft, 49m.

The Verrazano Narrows Bridge between Staten Island and Brooiklyn striped for 12 lanes is on two decks of 90ft, 27.5m or total deck width of 180ft, 55m.

These two New York City big bridges have almost no shoulder.

The new East Span of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge is being built for 10 traffic lanes on two side by side decks of 90ft, 27.5m each.  That's similar to the Verrazano Narrows 12-lanes deckspace.

The new Tappan Zee bridge NY on the Hudson River at Tarrytown is to be just a tad less wide than the East Span SFO Bay Bridge with 176ft, 53.7m of deck. It is described as 2x4 general purpose lanes with space for bus rapid transit plus pedestrian/bike lane in a very wide inside shoulder.  That is in effect ten lanes too.

It has less deck width than the 213ft, 65m claimed for the Port Mann Bridge.

Since travel lanes are typically 12ft, 3.65m the ten lanes of the Port Mann must occupy about 120ft or 36.5m. That leaves an extravagent 93ft, 28.5m for shoulders, pedestrian/bike lane and barriers.  

(We haven't yet been able to obtain a Port Mann bridge section with dimensions.)

Maybe they are overlooking a distinction between deck width and bridge width and they are boastfully counting the air in the middle between the two decks as part of the width? If so they risk being branded cheats as well as braggarts. (EXPECT REVISIONS/ADDITIONS)

A better bragging point may be the size of the all-electronic toll point at the Port Mann bridge with AET gantries spanning 10 lanes of roadway. We can't think of any others that big.

previous reports:




toll transponder/customer service site:





TOLLROADSnews 2012/12/12

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