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Cariboo overpass last piece of Port Mann puzzle

Workers are still putting the final touches on the new Cariboo Road overpass across Highway 1 even as traffic started using the new span on Monday. The three-lane bridge replaces the old two-lane bridge that was built in 1962 and was one of the oldest over the highway. The old bridge will be dismantled by the end of the summer. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
Workers are still putting the final touches on the new Cariboo Road overpass across Highway 1 even as traffic started using the new span on Monday. The three-lane bridge replaces the old two-lane bridge that was built in 1962 and was one of the oldest over the highway. The old bridge will be dismantled by the end of the summer.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

On Monday drivers on Cariboo Road crossed over Highway 1 on the oldest bridge that spans the highway in Metro Vancouver.

On Tuesday they drove over the newest.

The barriers came down on the new Cariboo Road overpass giving drivers access to the three-lane span for the first time Tuesday even as work crews continue to put the finishing touches on the bridge. It's the last of six overpasses between Brunette Avenue and the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge that had to be rebuilt as part of the Port Mann/Highway 1 Improvement Project that widened the Trans-Canada to eight lanes as it bisects Metro Vancouver.

The new bridge is wider, with three lanes for traffic flanked by shoulder bike lanes on each side and a 3.5-metre multi-use path on the northbound side. It was also designed to be expanded to four lanes if needed in the future, said Greg Johnson of the Transportation Investment Corporation.

The extra space will make the crossing safer for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as motorists, said Johnson.

"The key improvements have been for safety," he said.

At 5.5 metres, the new bridge is also two metres higher than the old one and half a metre higher than the provincial requirement.

That's because trucks have gotten larger since the first Cariboo overpass was erected in 1962.

While the overpass lacks architectural embellishments, its functional simplicity belies its complicated construction said Mike Farynuk, the project's senior supervisor.

For one thing, it had to be built with minimal disruption to traffic on the busy highway below. That meant each of the seven 50-metre slightly-curved steel girders had to be lifted into place through nighttime hours.

The site where the bridge is located is also busy with hydro transmission lines as well as the right of way for the Trans Mountain pipeline. The last thing his crews needed, said Farynuk, was to plunge the Lower Mainland into darkness or release a geyser of toxic oil as occurred on Inlet Drive in North Burnaby in 2007.

So surveying work was done with precision and cranes were moved into position very carefully.

While the new bridge is open to traffic, work isn't yet finished.

The dismantling of the old bridge has already started and should be completed by the end of summer said Johnson. Landscaping at the approaches should be done by year's end.

Some of that work could still disrupt traffic, he said. Notice of those disruptions can be found on the Port Man project's Twitter feed @PortMannHwy1.

 

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