February 20, 2010


The pylons to support the new Port Mann Bridge are taking shape on the east side of the crossing.

FEATURE | Roadbuilding & Surveying

New Port Mann Bridge to be widest in Canada

The new $1.2 billion, 10-lane Port Mann toll bridge is intended to become a landmark. It was designed by U.S.-based T.Y. Lin International (TYLI) of San Francisco.

“The new bridge will be an iconic structure – it will be the widest bridge in Canada, and the two pylons (towers) will rise approximately 110 metres above the bridge deck, providing some 40 meters navigation clearance,” said Stephen N. Docherty, the bridge section manager for Transportation Investment Corp. (TIC), a crown corporation.

The new bridge over the Fraser River will be about two kilometres in overall length.

The approaches comprise segmental pre-cast sections erected either span-by-span or as balanced cantilevers.

The river crossing is a three-span, 850 meter, (190m/470m/190m), cable stay bridge comprising two separate bridge deck structures (steel plus pre-cast panels) suspended from single pylons located between the decks. About 272 cables provide the support to the bridge decks. It will be built to the west of the existing structure.

Docherty is also TIC’s deputy authority representative and a senior project manager contracted from CH2M Hill in Vancouver.

He is a civil engineer who has worked all over the world and recently completed a role as land structures manager for Bilfinger Berger on the Golden Ears Bridge.

The crown corporation., was created in 2008 under the Transportation Investment Act to provide a public private partnership (P3) framework, but also facilitate the building of the bridge.

When a P3 deal fell through with the MacQuarie Group (part of the Connect BC Development Group), the government turned to a design-build, fixed-price contract with joint-venture partners Peter Kiewit Sons Co. and Flatiron Constructors Canada Limited for the Port Mann and Highway 1 project. The total project cost is $2.4 billion.

Design details and construction engineering is by International Bridge Technologies, Inc. (IBT) based in San Diego, but with a Coquitlam office.

IBT was previously involved with the Pitt River Bridge and the Coast Meridian Overpass.


A temporary tressel bridge has been built to allow construction crews access to build the new bridge.

The cable-stayed main span unit has a 1223-metre (4,012-ft) long pre-cast concrete segmental box girder approaches.

The 65-metre (213-ft) wide superstructure consists of two five-lane decks, separated by a 10-metre (32-ft) median, where the central pylons are located.

“It will be a real highlight to the city,” said Frank Margitan, vice-president of Peter Kiewit Sons Co. (Western Canada) speaking recently to the B.C. Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association.

The new bridge, reducing 13 hours of daily congestion, will be open in December 2012 with the associated highway upgrade finished by 2013. The new bridge will include the cable-stayed main bridge across the Fraser River (850 metres) with a south (Surrey) approach of 487 metres and a north (Coquitlam) approach 663 metres.

Margitan said that when the design came forward for the single tower cable stayed bridge, his firm questioned the design choice. A second opinion was obtained to verify structural integrity, he said, because his company guaranteed the project.

Margitan said that using the single pylon design (and pier combination), was also unique to Canada, although another bridge like it existed in China.

Approach work on both sides started in 2009. The Coquitlam approach consists of a chain of 10 piers with four stepping into the water, with pile driving extending into March 2010. A temporary trestle has been built for construction crews to access the pier in the water.

“The trestle has to come out afterwards,” said Margitan. He added that it needs to be moved to another site. Cofferdams are being used for the in-river piers.

Crews have also begun fabricating approximately one third of the 1,100 pre-cast bridge segments in a Coquitlam yard. In early 2010, a gantry crane will be set up to begin installing the segments.

Foundation work on the Coquitlam tower is progressing while the pile driving on the Surrey South Tower is complete. Foundations for the new bridge are steel piles or drilled shafts, supported on a firm ground till layer (beneath loose sand deposits) at below river depth.

The Surrey tower is stepped back on land to accommodate foreshore rail lines and difficult geotechnical conditions.

The new bridge will require 12,900 TNE of structural steel, 151,000 cubic metres of concrete and 279 piles and 96 caissons. Geotechnical services were supplied by Shannon & Wilson Inc. based in Seattle and environmental engineering by AMEC, which has offices in B.C.

TYLI has offices throughout the U.S. and Asia. It was founded by Chinese born T.Y. Lin following WWII. He died in 2003 but not before founding a company, teaching at Berkeley, and pioneering the development of pre-stressed concrete.

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These projects have been selected from 479 projects with a total value of $1,224,678,004 that Reed Construction Data Building Reports reported on Wednesday.


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