The $800-million Golden Ears Bridge opened yesterday morning and handled more vehicles in its first half-day than the Albion Ferry would in five.
The tolled bridge, which links Langley and Maple Ridge, handled 25,500 vehicles in its first 12 hours and 15 minutes, said Ken Hardie, a spokesman for TransLink.
By 5:15 p.m., more than 34,000 vehicles had crossed the bridge.
The Albion Ferry, by contrast, handles about 4,500 vehicles in an 80-sailing day.
Vehicles began lining up around 11 p.m. and the first cars crossed at 2:15 a.m. when the barricades were removed.
The new bridge is expected to save commuters about 40 minutes daily. Crossings will begin to be tolled after the first 30 days.
“It is flippin’ awesome,” said Langley resident Ron Matthews after he biked across the new bridge. “I took about 20 pictures on the way over. It’s beautiful.”
Matthews, who had worked on the weekend and wasn’t one of the 50,000 people who attended the bridge’s ribbon cutting Sunday, had planned to cycle to Golden Ears Park and return via the Albion Ferry in what he called “the perfect route.
Hardie said the large number of traffic was in part due to a large number of “rubberneckers” who crossed the bridge, but may not be regular commuters.
RCMP were present, helping direct people around the bridge’s roundabouts and watching for speeders.