Thursday, December 20, 2012

British Columbia's New Port Mann Bridge: Oops!

We crossed the Fraser River on the old Port Mann Bridge on our way to Vancouver hundreds of times.

The new Port Mann Bridge opened just a few weeks ago. It's the second longest bridge in North America and will be the widest bridge in the world once all 10 lanes are in operation.

It's a toll bridge with automated payment through license plate readers We've already signed up online for a windshield decal and automatic payment.

We're looking forward to our first trip over the new bridge and were intrigued to hear yesterday that the entire bridge had been closed in both directions for four hours, causing a monumental traffic jam during a Lower Mainland rush hour. Why?

Whether resulting from a design flaw or some less obvious reason, ice built up on the suspension cables and started dropping in large chunks on cars. The most recent radio reports state that at least two people were injured and upwards of 100 motorists have filed insurance claims.

The politicians are screaming and the contractor is promising to take steps to fix it. Apparently some other cable-stayed bridges around the world, as close as the Tacoma-Narrows Bridge (built by the same contractor) have had "ice issues."

Not exactly a grand opening...

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