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Traffic on Port Mann Bridge has increased dramatically over 5 years: ministry

New numbers from the province show a dramatic spike in traffic on the Port Mann bridge, growth that actually started before the tolls were removed. Janet Brown reports.

If you’re one of those commuters who use the Port Mann Bridge regularly and think traffic’s getting worse, you’re right.

Numbers provided by the Ministry of Transportation show a dramatic spike in the number vehicles making the crossing daily in the last five years.

READ MORE: Traffic on toll-free Port Mann Bridge up 27%: Report

In 2014, total average daily traffic volume across the bridge was 94,000 vehicles. The 10-lane crossing over the Fraser River had only opened to traffic two years prior.

By 2017, when the provincial government removed the tolls from both the Port Mann and Pattullo bridges, the number had jumped to 122,000.

Last year, 150,100 vehicles were crossing the Port Mann on a daily basis.

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The total average daily traffic volume recorded across the Port Mann Bridge between 2014 and 2018.
The total average daily traffic volume recorded across the Port Mann Bridge between 2014 and 2018. Ministry of Transportation

The numbers show traffic was steadily increasing well before the tolls were removed.

Surrey resident Brad Biccum has been commuting to his job in downtown Vancouver for two decades, and says he’s never seen the traffic volumes this bad.

“The commute that I make is generally about an hour and a half every morning,” he said.

Port Mann traffic is up, so are accidents
Port Mann traffic is up, so are accidents

“It was probably about two weeks ago that I experienced the worst commute that I think I’ve ever had. From here in Fraser Heights to downtown Vancouver I was about 2.5 hours.”

Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman says businesses are feeling the same pain.

“Transportation congestion absolutely affects regional goods movement,” she said. “Delays in traffic, productivity at the workplace, employees being late — that’s a cost to business.”

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READ MORE: Toll-free Port Mann Bridge sees jump of 30K crossings a day

Meanwhile, over at the Pattullo Bridge, daily traffic volumes have actually been on a steady decline in recent years.

In 2015, there was a high of nearly 77,000 vehicles a day crossing the span. That’s dropped to 61,700 in 2018.

The total average daily traffic volume recorded across the Pattullo Bridge between 2014 and 2018. The asterisk notes the year of the Pattullo Deck Rehabilitation Project.
The total average daily traffic volume recorded across the Pattullo Bridge between 2014 and 2018. The asterisk notes the year of the Pattullo Deck Rehabilitation Project. Ministry of Transportation

Huberman said the planned replacement for the Pattullo Bridge, which is expected to begin construction in early 2020, could help ease congestion on the Port Mann — but only if it’s built to accommodate future growth.

“We were advocating for six lanes, [but] it’s only going to be a four-lane bridge,” she said. “We need to make sure we are building transportation infrastructure and we are planning it for the future, not only for today.”
Metro Vancouver’s no-toll transportation strategy
Metro Vancouver’s no-toll transportation strategy

An estimated 1,000 people are moving to Surrey every month, and other communities south of the Fraser River are also seeing population surges due to lower housing prices.

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If these trends continue, traffic across the Port Mann is only expected to get worse.