Officials say the Port Mann Bridge Highway One Improvement Project, designed to improve the movement of goods and people throughout the Lower Mainland, is halfway done.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark spoke at a celebration marking the milestone on Saturday, lauding the 1,500 workers helping to finish construction.

"You are not just building a bridge; you are building a province," Clark said, referencing the 8,000 jobs the government estimates will be created by the project.

"It is also going to mean something really different for families. It could mean up to an hour more every day because they won't have the long commute that they used to have."

The 37-kilometre bridge and highway construction project is the single largest in North America. Running from the McGill Street Interchange in Vancouver to 216th Street in Langley, the project involves replacing, upgrading or adding more than 30 interchanges and overpasses.

When complete, it will use 28,000 tonnes of rebar, 45 kilometres of steel cable and 25,000 tonnes of asphalt.

The 10-lane bridge will also double the capacity for commuters crossing the Fraser River every day – as well as buses.

"Public transit hasn't run across the bridge in decades," Clark said, adding that traffic congestion results in 14 hours of rush hour every day.

The bridge will be paid for by commuters through tolling, which is expected to take about 40 years.

Drivers will be charged $3 in each direction, though B.C.'s transportation minister says there will be no extra taxes on top of that.

Though there has been much progress on the project, there's still much to do. The new Port Mann is scheduled to open in the winter of 2012-2013.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger