New Port Mann Bridge to rise from the Fraser

The new Port Mann Bridge will soon take shape over the Fraser River as segments of precast bridge deck are transported to the job site starting this week.

Over the next few months, 327 concrete segments will be moved from a fabrication yard in Coquitlam to the south side of the bridge in Surrey, then fitted together and lifted into place to make the bridge’s southern approach, explained Pam Ryan, spokeswoman with Transportation Investment Corp., the Crown corporation overseeing the ­project.

Drivers will also see the south tower, the first of the bridge’s two main piers, begin to rise above the height of the existing Port Mann Bridge. Both piers will eventually stand 153-metres tall – higher than the piers on the Alex Fraser Bridge.

The new cable-stay bridge is set for completion at the end of 2012, at which point the familiar orange Port Mann Bridge will be dismantled and demolished. The entire project will be complete at the end of 2013.

“The last year or so has been a lot of what we call underground work . . . or prep work,” said Ryan. “It has gone very, very well, but it has mostly been out of the public eye. Now we’re going to start to see more things coming out of the ground, and we’re going to see the bridge itself come up quite quickly.”

About one-third of the bridge and highway construction is complete – “on budget and on schedule,” said Ryan.

Drivers can now expect a few more traffic disruptions as the project is in full swing.

The transportation of the bridge deck will take months, with the segments for the south approach in motion every night from now until November. The transportation of the segments for the north side – 831 of them – will begin after that, followed by the main cable-stay portion.

Meanwhile, the installation of the south approach will begin in early June and finish by the end of the year.

Ryan said the hauling will be done with wide-load semitrucks, led by a pilot car, between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. every night from this week onward. The trucks will take up two eastbound lanes on their journey along United Boulevard on to Highway 1 and across the existing Port Mann Bridge, travelling 30 to 50 km/h.

“There won’t be closures, but traffic will definitely be slower,” she said.

There will also be traffic disruptions in Vancouver this summer.

Meanwhile, construction starts this week on girders to hold new HOV ramps near Grandview Highway. The new ramps will allow high-occupancy vehicles to jump the line getting on and off the highway at the Grandview exit.

Throughout the summer, the highway and, at times, the exit itself, will be closed eastbound between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m. with detours in place.

Ryan said closures are inevitable, but crews are trying to “minimize disruption and maximize predictability” for drivers.

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