Blue Water Bridge traffic grows

U.S.-bound vehicles soon will have increase in tolls

By LIZ SHEPARD

Times Herald

Traffic volumes across the Blue Water Bridge were the largest in years this summer.

Jim Mynsberge, operations manager of the bridge in Port Huron, said more than 258,270 vehicles crossed the bridge in July and more than 273,000 vehicles used the bridge in August.

In 2010, about 240,000 vehicles crossed the border using the bridge in July; about 248,000 did so in August.

Mynsberge said he credits the increase to the ease of crossing the bridge with Nexus, which allows expedited processing by U.S. and Canadian officials for pre-screened travelers.

But while there has been an uptick in traffic, there’s also going to be an uptick in cost to get back into the United States using the bridge.

U.S.-bound passenger vehicles will pay 25 cents more — $3.25 — to cross the Blue Water Bridge starting Oct. 1.

A roll of 20 tokens will increase from $40 to $45, and a 25-cent increase per axle will go into effect for U.S.-bound commercial vehicles Jan. 1. Chuck Chrapko, president and chief executive officer of Blue Water Bridge Canada, said the increase in the toll is estimated to generate an additional $1 million in revenue.

Blue Water Bridge Canada is self-sufficient and does not receive taxes from the Canadian government, nor does it pay taxes.

Chrapko said the extra funding is needed for the increased cost of daily operations now that a $70 million new plaza has been built on the Canadian side of the bridge. Some of the funds raised also will be set aside for capital improvements.

Canadian officials last raised the toll by 25 cents in 2009. That increase only affected cash-paying customers.

Mynsberge said he doesn’t anticipate an increase in toll for Canada-bound traffic in the near future.

U.S. officials increased the bridge toll in 2010, doubling the rate for passenger vehicles to $3 in January. The toll for Canadian-bound commercial vehicles was increased from $1.75 per axle to $2.50 per axle at that time, and was bumped up to $3.25 per axle April 1.

It was the first U.S. toll increase since 1997.