Ambassador Bridge and Blue Water Bridge Among Nation’s Busiest Crossings

Port Huron among nation’s busiest border crossings but trucks don’t stop here

By Holly Setter | Times Herald

On any given day, there’s a rumble across the Blue Water Bridge from Canada to the U.S. It’s a common sight for those from the area, but the trucks don’t stick around.

A 24/7 Wall Street article ranked the top 10 border crossings in the U.S. Port Huron was sixth for truck traffic volume; Detroit ranked No. 2.

“If you looked at the dollar value associated with the crossing, we would have been No. 3,” said David Haynes, director of business attraction for the St. Clair County Economic Development Alliance.

According to Blue Water Bridge Canada data, 58,805 trucks crossed the bridge into the U.S. in November 2012, the most recent data available. Throughout the year, the bridge averaged 57,328 trucks a month.

All of those trucks mean revenue for the area, officials said. Companies locate near the bridge either to make it easy to ship parts or receive them, creating a strong industrial tax base for the county, Haynes said.

The county is not doing all that it can to capture the maximum benefit of that traffic, however.

Dan Casey, chief executive officer and executive director of the St. Clair County EDA, said only 6 percent of trucks crossing the bridge actually stop in the area. Most continue on down the road before they stop for a bite to eat, fuel, shopping or to unload.

“We are economically benefiting from the 6 percent that stop,” he said. “Our challenge is to create value for the trucking community to stop here, to spend money, to transfer their goods from truck to rail or truck to airline or to drop them off to be altered.”

That, he said, is where the I-69 International Trade Corridor agreement comes into play. The four counties involved in the corridor along Interstate 69— St. Clair, Lapeer, Genesee and Shiawassee — are marketing the area to logistics companies to play up the relatively low cost of doing business here, as well as other benefits.

The collaborative has spent money to put up billboards advertising the 1-69 International Trade Corridor website, which details the tax abatements and tax-free renaissance zones available for development, as well as the low-traffic congestion and skilled workforce.

“We are reaching out to the trucking companies,” Casey said. “Our long-term hope is that it will result in jobs and investment for the area.”

Hayes said the Blue Water Bridge also is in the top five for the amount of passenger traffic crossing the border, which the community would be wise to capitalize on as well.

“We receive a lot of benefit from the spending that occurs when (Canadians) come visit,” he said. “Particularly in Fort Gratiot. We should be doing more marketing into Ontario, letting them know just what we have in terms of shopping and downtowns. We have a great community and a beautiful waterfront, and we should market that.”