Figures can tell the truth and sometimes figures can hide the truth

The Ambassador Bridge experienced a 2.51% decline in total traffic for September 2011 compared to September 2010. The first inclination would be to ascribe this loss of traffic to the sputtering economy as it tries to recover from the recent deep recession.

However, when one looks at the traffic numbers for other crossings, both in Michigan and elsewhere in the northeast, another picture emerges. Total traffic volumes for September 2011 were up compared to September 2010 at the Blue Water Bridge (up 7.62%), at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel (up 3.39%) and at the International Bridge in Sault Ste. Marie (up 7.61%). Looking at Buffalo, NY, total traffic at the Peace Bridge was up 1.64%, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge was up 14.72%, the Rainbow Bridge was up 12.81% and the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge was up a whopping 37.19%.

In fact, of the 11 crossings that are members of the Public Bridge Operator’s Association (PBOA), only one other crossing besides the Ambassador Bridge, showed a decline in overall traffic for September 2011, and that was the Thousand Islands Bridge (down 0.33%). The Thousand Islands Bridge, which connects Alexandria Bay, New York to Gananoque, Ontario, carried a total of 2,077,872 vehicles in 2010 (359,934 of then trucks) and year to date is running 1.07% behind last year. The Ambassador Bridge, which last year handled 7,232,366 vehicles (2,683,047 of them trucks) is currently running 0.07% behind last year’s pace.

Since all of the other crossings are seeing increased traffic volumes, perhaps the decline in volumes observed at the Ambassador Bridge is the result of drivers attempting to avoid the construction both on the bridge (the current re-decking project) and on the bridge plaza (the, as yet uncompleted Gateway Project).