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Port Mann Highway 1 Roadworks and Detour Designs

2008-2015 | Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Surrey, and Langley, BC

The $3.3B Port Mann / Highway 1 project was the largest transportation infrastructure project in BC’s history. The new bridge was built to accommodate increased traffic between Coquitlam and Surrey. Because construction was completed over several months, detours needed to be designed, and redesigned to adjust to different staging sites. It was important keep traffic moving safely and efficiently throughout construction.

McElhanney was the prime consultant for the provision of detour design services, and worked directly with the design builder. Our team designed over 350 detours for various stages of construction.

During construction, more than 120,000 vehicles drove over the Port Mann Bridge every day, ranging from commuters (travelling 80km/h) to slow-moving construction machinery. The detour designs needed to incorporate HOV lanes, cycling lanes, and dedicated bus and truck ramps, and ensure high-speed and low-speed traffic did not mix.

Clear lane markers and signage were crucial to keeping drivers and the construction crew safe. Traditional painted pavement lines were not appropriate, since the detours were constantly changing. Painting, and repainting lines, leaves traces of the old lines behind, and would be very dangerous for an open highway. Instead, McElhanney used customized raised pavement markers that could be laid down, and pulled up without leaving any trace. Additionally, many drivers rely on GPS, but the detour roads changed too frequently for GPS updates. McElhanney designed signs warning drivers not to rely on GPS to upcoming turns, exits, or lane changes.

Despite complex and extensive construction, it has been reported that collision rates throughout the corridor decreased during the project construction when detours were in place. By maintain high-speed, free-flow traffic throughout construction, both traffic slow-downs and vehicle emissions were minimized.

This project was so successful it earned awards from the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies British Columbia (ACEC-BC), and the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers Greater Vancouver Section.  These include:

  • The Bill Curtis Project of the Year Award, Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers, Greater Vancouver Section, in 2012.