Golden Ears Bridge
The Golden Ears Bridge is a new six-lane cable-stayed bridge to be built between Langley and Maple Ridge, British Columbia, crossing the Fraser River. The new bridge, owned by TransLink, will span one kilometre and have a clearance of 40 metres. The construction project, officially launched in June 2006, will create 13 kilometres of new road. It will have direct connections to Lougheed Highway, Maple Meadows Way, 113B Avenue, 200th Street, 176th Street (Highway 15) and the Trans-Canada Highway. The Golden Ears Bridge began construction in the summer of 2006 and is slated to open in the summer of 2009 and has a fixed total construction cost of $808 million.
- first electronic tolled bridge in Western Canada
- to open June 05, 2009
- 13.3 kilometres of 2, 4 and 6-lane mainline roadway including the main bridge span
- 5 kilometres of on- and off-ramps
- 12.2 kilometres of municipal street upgrades
- 2 kilometres of modifications on provincial highways and interchanges
- 17 named bridges including the main river bridge
- Total 4,656 m of bridge length
- Total 112,000 square metres of bridge deck
The project was named through a community process and reflects the well-known lower Fraser Valley landmark, the Golden Ears peaks, which crown Mount Blanshard in Golden Ears Provincial Park. The successful submission to name the bridge was that of George Tabert, a local pastor.
The Golden Ears peaks look down on the bridge from the north. There are several explanations for the origin of the term “Golden Ears.” By one local account, "Golden Ears" is a modification of “Golden Aeries”, referring to the nests of the eagles that thrive on Canada’s Pacific coast.
The eagle has been chosen as a symbol for the bridge, and will be displayed on project signs and on the bridge towers. Click here to view a scale model.
The design theme also recognizes First Nations and their relationship to the land through the inclusion of “fish trap” fences and specially designed lanterns along the roadway. The planting of native trees, shrubs and grasses will build a sense of harmony along the corridor and help to integrate the facility within the region.
TransLink's current operating plan calls for the opening of the bridge to be followed by the cessation of the Albion Ferry, a passenger/vehicle ferry that has been operational since 7 June 1957 and employs 59 full-time and 18 auxiliary employees. In 2003, annual traffic amounted to 1.5 million vehicles and 4.0 million passengers.
The main river bridge concept for the Golden Ears project is an adaptation of the Alex Fraser cable-stayed bridge, designed by our consulting associates, Buckland & Taylor. The Alex Fraser, completed in the 1980s, spans the Fraser River west of the Golden Ears crossing, and connects the municipalities of Richmond and New Westminster (on the north shore) with the municipality of Delta.
When it opened in 1986, the Alex Fraser was the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. Golden Crossing Constructors have used their international experience in bridge construction to update the Alex Fraser concept, creating a much lower-profile bridge design.
Improvements in design will allow for more rapid and more accurate assembly of steel and construction of the cable anchorages. The deck framing system, made of a composite of materials, is very light, reducing the seismic load on the substructure and foundations.
One substantial technical challenge in this project was to develop a foundation design that will allow for timely and cost-effective construction in the deep layers of soft silt of the Fraser River.
The design selected will make use of large-diameter bored piles. These are new to British Columbia, but were recently used by engineers from the project team on the My Thuan Bridge in Viet Nam.
The construction process required to sink these piles requires a minimum of specialized equipment compared with more conventional methods, and it has less impact on the marine environment.
The First Electronic Tolls in Western Canada
Scheduled to open in mid-2009, TransLink’s Golden Ears Bridge will be the first bridge or road in western Canada to use fully-electronic tolling technology.
TransLink will use the revenue collected from bridge users to finance the construction, operation and maintenance of the TransLink-owned bridge and its associated network of major road improvements.
The Golden Ears Bridge’s electronic toll system will mean nonstop toll payment by bridge users. There will be no toll booths, and vehicles will not stop or slow down to pay the toll, keeping the traffic flowing freely.
Instead of toll booths, each lane of traffic will be equipped with electronic sensors and digital cameras. As a vehicle moves across the bridge at highway speed, the sensors identify the type of vehicle, and cameras record the vehicle’s front and rear license plates. Sensors also detect if the vehicle is equipped with a transponder - a special electronic device that can be leased by the vehicle owner. The sensor and photographic data is used to ensure the applicable toll is collected from the vehicle owner, for each use of the bridge.
When the new Golden Ears Bridge opens in 2009, motor vehicles will cross the bridge for free for the first month, giving TransLink time to test the new tolling technology and providing travelers with an opportunity to experience the benefits of reduced travel times.
- registered vehicle with transponder: $2.85
- registered vehicle without transponder: $3.45
- unregistered vehicle: $4.00
- registered vehicle with transponder: $5.75
- registered vehicle without transponder: $6.30
- unregistered vehicle: $6.80
- registered vehicle with transponder: $8.60
- registered vehicle without transponder: $9.15
- unregistered vehicle: $9.75
- registered vehicle with transponder: $1.45
- registered vehicle without transponder: $2.00
- unregistered vehicle: $2.55
TransLink retains control of the toll rates, which will be adjusted annually to reflect inflation, rounded to the nearest nickel, once the Golden Ears Bridge is open.
To ensure the toll is collected fairly and equitably from users, ICBC is able to refuse to issue a driver’s license, vehicle license and vehicle insurance when a person owes TransLink an excessive toll debt. These terms are defined in the tolling bylaw, approved by the TransLink Board of Directors.
Bicycles, pedestrians, emergency vehicles, TransLink buses, transit support vehicles, and project maintenance vehicles will not have to pay the toll.
Public-Private Joint Venture
Led by Bilfinger Berger (Canada) Inc., the Canadian arm of Bifinger Berger Civil, a global leader in engineering, and CH2M HILL, an internationally respected project manager, the Golden Crossing Constructors Joint Venture combines international experience in designing and constructing long span bridge structures with a strong local presence.
Members of the Joint Venture have worked on major international bridge projects such as the My Thuan Bridge across the Mekong River in Viet Nam, the Puento Centenario spanning the Panama Canal, the Alex Fraser Bridge in Greater Vancouver and many other transportation infrastructure projects in British Columbia.
The Joint Venture is providing design and construction services for the Golden Ears Bridge project under contract with the Golden Crossing General Partnership. In March 2006, the General Partnership concluded an agreement with TransLink to manage the design, construction, operation, maintenance and rehabilitation of the Golden Ears Bridge and mainline route over a period of 35.5 years. The General Partnership is a special purpose company established by Bilfinger Berger BOT Inc., the Canadian project development arm of Bilfinger Berger.
Fast Facts about TransLink's Golden Ears Bridge
The Golden Ears Bridge will be the most significant improvement to the Greater Vancouver road system since the completion of the Alex Fraser Bridge in 1986.
Construction began in summer 2006, with a scheduled opening date of summer 2009.
The new bridge, a project developed by TransLink, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, will provide a vital new link between communities on the south side of the river—Langley and Surrey—and the north side communities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. Financing is provided by the Golden Crossing General Partnership under a 35.5 year agreement with TransLink. The transportation authority is to repay the General Partnership over time after the bridge is open.
The "Golden Ears" are twin mountain peaks that look down on the bridge site from north of the Fraser River.
Studies conducted for TransLink show that the new bridge will have major long-term impacts on the region, improving travel times and promoting economic activity.
The project connects the Trans-Canada Highway in both Surrey and Langley (on the south side of the Fraser River) with the Lougheed Highway (Highway 7), 128 Avenue, and the new Pitt Meadows Airport Way on the north side of the river.
Construction of the new bridge and road network will create more than one billion dollars in economic activity and 6,500 person years of employment.
The Golden Crossing Constructors Joint Venture is managing design and construction. The joint venture is made up of Bilfinger Berger (Canada) Inc., the Canadian arm of a global engineering and construction firm, and CH2M HILL, an international engineering and project management firm. Together, they combine international expertise with a strong local engineering and construction presence. The Joint Venture has engaged leading B.C.-based firms to supply components and profesional services and provide design and construction labour and expertise.
The GCCJV team places the highest priority on the safety of workers and the public, on quality, on working productively with First Nations, and on operating in an environmentally sustainable manner. Residents and motorists are regularly notified of construction activities that may affect their neighbourhoods or create traffic diversions on provincial highways and on local streets and roads.
The aesthetic design of the bridge will reflect the unique social, physical and natural environments of this region. Elements such as sculptured lighting features, golden eagles and a “fish trap” fence will create a sense of unique character for the project. The use of state-of-the-art technology will allow the boring, rather than driving of piles in the river, reducing disruption to the marine environment.
- The Golden Ears Bridge will be a 1 km, six-lane bridge that spans the Fraser River
- The bridge will connect Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to Langley and Surrey at approximately 200 Street
- Includes the construction of 16 bridges, ramps and viaducts including the main river bridge
- A total of 4,656 metres of structures will be built once the bridge is complete
- More than 13 kilometers of mainline roadway will be constructed, much of which will be landscaped
- The project includes 11.5 kilometers of local road reconstruction
- The Golden Ears Bridge and associated road network is scheduled to open mid 2009
- The project is expected to bring close to $1-billion in local construction-related activity to the area
- The project will provide an estimated 6,500 person-years of employment
- Commuters will save up to 40 minutes per peak-hour round-trip from Maple Ridge to Langley
- In the long-range, more than 700 new businesses forecast in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Surrey and Langley
- The Golden Ears Bridge design includes 2-metre-wide cycling and pedestrian pathways on each side of vehicle traffic, protected by a concrete barrier
- The main bridge pathways are part of the Trans-Canada Trail
- More than 6 kilometers of new pathway will be built in Surrey and Pitt Meadows with connections to existing trail networks in Langley, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge
- TransLink retains overall responsibility and ownership of this project
- TransLink has concluded a 35.5-year agreement with the Golden Crossing General Partnership to finance, design, build, maintain and rehabilitate the bridge and main roadway. The Partnership is owned by Ontario-based Bilfinger Berger BOT Inc.
- The Golden Crossing Joint Venture is managing detailed design and construction. The Joint Venture combines the skills and experience of Bilfinger Berger (Canada) Inc. and CH2M Hill Canada Ltd., which are Canadian branches of international engineering firms.