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Traffic up by 24% on toll-free Port Mann Bridge

Click to play video 'Bridge traffic before and after Port Mann tolls end' Bridge traffic before and after Port Mann tolls end
Video captured from the Global 1 helicopter shows bridge traffic before and after the end of tolls. Can you see a difference in congestion? – Sep 6, 2017

The numbers are in and they corroborate what was suspected by many: congestion is up on the Port Mann Bridge and Golden Ears Bridge following the elimination of tolls.

The Transportation Investment Corporation has released traffic volume numbers since the tolls were removed compared to a year ago.

LISTEN: Simi Sara talks about a toll-free Port Mann and Golden Ears

On Sept. 5, during the first day back to school, traffic on the Port Mann Bridge reached 148,000 vehicles. That’s compared to 119,000 the same day a year before.

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That’s a 24 per cent increase in traffic.

READ MORE: New West mayor says toll-free Port Mann already helping congestion

Meanwhile, the Golden Ears Bridge also saw an increase on Sept. 5, from 41,000 in 2016 to 51,000 this year.

“It’s still early days and we expect it will take some time for travel patterns to adjust as people explore different options for getting around the region,” said TransLink.

The company said a “more reliable” snapshot of traffic volume is coming in the fall as data continues to be collected and people settle into new routines.

WATCH: No more tolls on B.C. bridges

Click to play video 'No more tolls on B.C. bridges' No more tolls on B.C. bridges
No more tolls on B.C. bridges – Sep 1, 2017

B.C.’s Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the bump in traffic on both bridges is just what they wanted to see.

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“Obviously removing the tolls was a very good thing. People wanted to be able to run freely and they didn’t want to have to pay an unfair cost for doing so.”

Trevena said the ministry will be monitoring communities near the bridges to see how or if the change in traffic affects them.

But as far as the Port Mann or Golden Ears being able to handle more traffic, Trevena said this is the kind of capacity they were built for.

WATCH: Pattullo Bridge safety concerns

Click to play video 'New Pattullo Bridge safety concerns' New Pattullo Bridge safety concerns
New Pattullo Bridge safety concerns – Sep 28, 2016

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner says that up until now, the bridge hadn’t been carrying the capacity it was built for.

“That bridge has been under-utilized for a very long time. I’m not surprised given the tolls are off the numbers are up, but I don’t think they’ve escalated to the point where the diversion puts it in an arena of real concern yet.”

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Hepner said traffic volumes are up between 25 and 30 per cent compared to when the tolls were in place.

She said she’s happy to see some of the load off the Pattullo, which she thought was carrying more than it should have.

~With files from Liza Yuzda