The Federal Bridge Corporation (FBC) that owns, manages and operates the Blue Water Bridge is countering suggestions that ongoing rehabilitation work is responsible for border delays and reported traffic concerns in neighboring areas.
Senior communications specialist Alexandre Gauthier says traffic and wait times at the span — which connects Point Edward, Ont. to Port Huron, Mich. — are similar to those that existed before the project started on July 5.
Traffic is reduced to a single lane in either direction as the project continues.
But Mike Bradley, mayor of neighboring Sarnia, says it is “a real stretch to suggest this [construction] doesn’t have an impact.”
TruckNews.com previously reported local police are taking a “zero-tolerance” approach to crack down on commercial vehicles that use residential streets to bypass the lineups leading to the border crossing, while U.S.-bound truck drivers complained of long delays.
“The amazing coincidence between the bridge work and traffic backups is severe enough to bring in the OPP and Sarnia Police to enforce the rules,” Bradley said.
“Traffic is not backed up on the bridge all the way to the toll gates. It shows that traffic is not backed up because of the lane reduction,” Gauthier said.
He added that if vehicles are waiting on the bridge, it is because they are waiting for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials to let them through. And if they are waiting at the toll gates, they are lined up to pay tolls.
The U.S. CBP website showed a 45-minute delay for commercial vehicles at noon on Aug. 1.
Bev Hand, mayor of the Village of Point Edward, agreed with FBC’s Gauthier.
“Lineups have been an existing problem, there were lineups even before construction started,” she said. “It’s not consistently a backup. It’s ebbing and flowing. The time of day makes a difference.”
Hand did say citizens have been complaining about trucks blocking access to local exits on Hwy. 402 .
Having two bridges acts as redundancy
The Blue Water Bridge complex features two spans – the First Blue Water Bridge (FBWB) and the Second Blue Water Bridge (SBWB). Rehabilitation work is underway on the FBWB, and traffic has been rerouted to the SBWB.
Gauthier said having two bridges acts as a redundancy. When one span is closed, the other takes up the rest of the traffic. But a FAST lane was closed in the process.
He added that there may be more conversations to be had about wait times that were present before the work began.
Point Edward’s Hand said education and messaging is helping keep trucks away from residential streets. Drivers caught attempting to sneak past the lineup are ticketed by law enforcement officials and escorted to the back of the queue.
And she is already looking to the future: “The work is supposed to be completed by Oct. 5. Then we are good for 10 years.”
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