British Columbia

Port Mann continues to lose money but officials say bridge still on track to pay for itself

Port Mann expected to lose close to $90M this year, and next year, and the next year and the next year.

Bridge initially expected to turn a profit in 2017, but now forecast to lose $86M both of the next two years

The new Port Mann Bridge was built beside the structure of the old crossing of the same name. (TI Corp.)

The Port Mann Bridge continues to lose money faster than originally projected but the government insists the crossing is still on target to pay for itself.

"What hasn't changed is our commitment to pay off this bridge by 2050," said Transportation Minster Todd Stone.

Financial projections released as part of the 2017 B.C. budget reveal the Port Mann will lose $88 million in 2016-17, $90 million in 2017-18, and $86 million in each of the following two years.

The government initially promised the bridge would become profitable five years after it opened — in other words sometime this year.

But the expected traffic never materialized. Drivers diverted to the Patullo and Alex Fraser bridges to avoid paying the Port Mann toll, causing revenue projections for the bridge to be sharply scaled back.

The Transportation Investment Corporation says the Port Mann is now expected to turn a profit 10 to 15 years from now.

"At first when we introduced tolls people tried out the alternate routes. This region is unique because there are a number of un-tolled alternate routes," said spokesperson Greg Johnson. "But we're seeing people come back now."

An artist's rendering of the proposed $3.5B toll bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel. (Province of B.C.)

Total revenue from the Port Mann is forecast to reach $145 million this year, up from $136 million in 2015-16.

The span connects Coquitlam and Surrey and was built along with upgrades to Highway 1 at a cost of $3.3 billion.

The government and TI Corporation are about to build a $3.5 billion toll bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel. Construction is expected to start this year and be completed by 2022.