WINDSOR, Ont. – The Ambassador Bridge will be the first international crossing to install all-electronic tolling (AET) for trucks. The two gantries – both located on the US side – are now in place for incoming and outgoing...
WINDSOR, Ont. – The Ambassador Bridge will be the first international crossing to install all-electronic tolling (AET) for trucks. The two gantries – both located on the US side – are now in place for incoming and outgoing trucks, with the total commercial traffic tolling conversion to AET occurring before the year is out.
“We are still testing it,” bridge president Dan Stamper said of the $5-million investment, which has inbound and outbound gantries – similar to the overhead trusses along Highway 407 ETR in Toronto.
“So far for us right now we’re dealing with the inbound trucks to the US,” Stamper said. “We will convert it over to the outbound trucks as soon as it’s fully automated, fully operational.”
For months the bridge company has been giving away two-inch window stickers containing the ISO 18000-6C transponders for the overhead RFID (radio frequency identification) readers, which are the most advanced yet for open road tolling (ORT). The IDentity 6204 readers are made by the Sirit division of 3M.
3M said in a statement the bridge is the first US organization to install the advanced reader, which can read all six North American toll protocols – such as E-Z Pass, California Title 21 and 6C which is also used by several states – and is especially designed for high-volume roads.
Stamper said the bridge is now accommodating a total of 7,000 trucks each weekday, though volume was down 14% in September, likely caused by a build-up in August traffic as automakers sought to stockpile inventory in case of a strike by the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union during contract negotiations.
The bridge company has been notifying customers in mailings for the past half year about the toll conversion.
“We did a survey for about three months and took mailing addresses, phone numbers and information on the carriers, and we’ve sent fliers to them on numerous occasions,” Stamper said.
In an unusual step, the company has also made available the transponders free of charge. Drivers can pick them up when at the duty-free refuelling stop or by dropping into the adjacent store.
“It’s very easy, it’s self-adhesive, just stick it on the windshield,” Stamper said.
The incoming gantry to the US is located over the two-lane road at the end of the segregated truck ramp prior to where trucks enter the US Customs plaza.
The gantry for outgoing trucks to Canada is located in the same area where the conventional tollbooths are located and will eventually be shared with four-wheel traffic. Stamper said electronic tolling for passenger vehicles will be introduced sometime next year.
The RFID readers work in conjunction with weigh-in-motion scales that weigh the truck, count the number of axles, and calculate the appropriate toll. Trucks move very slowly through the tolling areas but the system is capable of calculating tolls “at highway speed,” Stamper said.
Cameras attached to the bridge-like trusses also take pictures of the trucks’ DoT numbers and licence plates.
“We can monitor the weights, the number of axles, the configuration, the weight on each axle, and classify the vehicles all on the automated system without stopping,” Stamper said.
This is the latest iteration of the RFID technology that has been tested by the bridge company over the past few years.
Unlike other readers, the Identity 6204s can read the bridge’s 6C transponder protocol or any of the other five major North American electronic toll protocols.
“So if we get a trucking company that says ‘Look I don’t want your RF tags, here’s a list of our RF tags, can we sign these up on your system?’ we can do that,” Stamper said.
Stamper said the AET will further expedite trucks across the international gateway, in the wake of a new dedicated truck road and freeway ramps to US interstates.
“We’re hoping it will speed up the movement of trucks,” he said. “They only have to stop one time, and that’s for Customs, and Customs has their own RF tag and a reading system for their needs.”
Stamper said that at the Ambassador Bridge, 100% of the trucks that cross are pre-processed, so Customs in both countries know the truck’s coming long before the vehicles show up.
“I think we’ve been the only international bridge that has 100% pre-processed trucks crossing,” he said.