Thursday, February 24, 2011

Port Mann Bridge Tolls and Unexpected Consequences

No Toll Port Mann © Stephen Mullock
Anyone living in the Fraser Valley has driven over the Port Mann Bridge, spanning the Fraser River and giving access to the Greater Metro Vancouver area, hundreds if not thousands of times, Trucks, Buses, Cars, Motorcycles, vehicles of all sizes, shapes and colours commuting for pleasure, family and commerce.  The Port Mann built in 1964 is the most important and busiest bridge in British Columbia.

The new Port Mann at a price tag of $2.46 billion is expected to open in 2012 replacing the orange arches of the existing bridge which is to be torn down.  It will be a marvel of engineering and will charge a toll to cross.

Lately, I have been wondering about unexpected consequences, take the Non-toll Sea to Sky highway linking Vancouver to the ski resort of Whistler for instance.  One day last spring, post Olympics, on a planning retreat in Whistler I fell into a conversation with a taxi driver. In a friendly fashion I asked the driver how business was.  He answered "terrible, the new Sea to Sky highway is so good, more and more people simply drive back home after the day saving restaurant, hotel and taxi expenses - an unexpected consequence indeed.

What will change with a new Port Mann toll bridge in place?

My theory is that, not all, but a significant percentage of people will start to look for local Fraser Valley alternatives to the splendors of Vancouver, pulling revenue out of that centre and strengthening Fraser Valley communities.  This could be very good for Fraser Valley businesses.  A better business environment means more employment and that provides the groundwork for real estate demand.  

Better yet, we can only hope that the "all roads lead to Vancouver" mentality will finally be broken and that Valley communities will start to develop linkages between themselves.  How about a transit system linking Langley and Surrey?

I am not suggesting that all Port Mann bridge traffic is about to stop, but, there is going to be resistance to the proposed toll bridge scenario.  Whether you think this will be good or bad may depend upon which side of the bridge you are on.  What do you think?

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.


  1. Jeanette FilleterMarch 3, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    Port Mann as a toll road. What brilliant part of the government thought up that idea? Unbelieveable - it has been a connecting bridge for as long as I can remember. Shame on them


  2. really it's a tax for the poor. You know who I mean, all of us who can't afford 1.8 million dollar apartments near our work places and have to settle for the affordable neighbourhoods 50kms away over the bridge. we deserve to pay more tax, right?

  3. "The working poor" in the Lower Mainland is a story that continues to be under-reported and is of growing importance. While Vancouver rapidly expands with sales of apartments, bought for speculation, apartments that remain largely empty, affordable rentals are becoming harder and harder to find, and usually as you suggest at a distance. Something is wrong with this situation.