FREDERICTON (CNB) - Tolls will be removed from the Saint John Harbour Bridge at 4 p.m. today, April 1.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams made the announcement today at the legislative assembly.

"Now that the toll gates are going up for good, I am proud to say we have fulfilled our government's commitment to remove the tolls from the Harbour Bridge," Williams said. "With the tolls now being removed, a long-standing irritant for local residents and all users will be eliminated."

The Department of Transportation takes over maintenance and operation of the bridge structure from the Saint John Harbour Bridge Authority following the passage of Bill 14, An Act to Dissolve the Saint John Harbour Bridge Authority.

"I wish to thank the authority and, particularly, the staff for their professionalism and dedication during this transition process," Williams said. "Removing these tolls will ensure drivers in Saint John and throughout our province are treated fairly, and this important component of the Atlantic Gateway and Trade Corridor can function more efficiently."

The Saint John Harbour Bridge Authority was established by an act of the New Brunswick legislative assembly in April 1962 to build, maintain and operate a toll bridge across Saint John Harbour. The Saint John Harbour Bridge opened in August 1968.

“Today marks an important moment in the history of the Saint John Harbour Bridge and will ensure it remains an essential part of Saint John's and New Brunswick's transportation infrastructure for many decades to come," Williams added. “Due to today’s weather system, motorists need to exercise caution when driving through the toll plaza this evening and during this time of transition.”

Drivers who require refunds for their B-pass accounts may submit a request by e-mail to [email protected] or by mail to the Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, N.B., E3B 5H1. Drivers are asked to include their name, complete mailing address, telephone number, and transponder number or account number.

Refund requests must be submitted by May 14.