SARNIA, Ont. — Lobbying efforts by the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) have helped convince the Blue Water Bridge operators on the American side to gradually phase-in toll increases.
Hikes of 86% were proposed by the Michigan Department of Transportation on the US side of the Blue Water Bridge. The increased fees were slated to go into effect Jan. 1, but OTA has been lobbying officials least phase the increase in over time so carriers can adjust their contracts with shippers accordingly.
The efforts appear to have paid off. The MDOT has announced that instead of a one-time increase from US$1.75 per axle to US$3.25 per axle for commercial vehicles, the agency will incrementally raise tolls by 75 cents/axle to US$2.50 (effective yesterday) with the full increase to take effect Apr. 1.
“The trucking industry let us know that our original proposal – which was to increase the rate to the full US$3.25 per axle – was too steep for their current contracts to handle,” Michael Szuch, Blue Water Bridge manager in Port Huron said in a release. “We were willing to negotiate the timing of the full increase based on these concerns, but we are obligated to keep the bridge’s finances in good standing, so it was critical that we moved forward with the toll increase as soon as possible.”
The new fee will align with the toll charged on the Canadian side of the Blue Water Bridge.
“While this is short of the delay in implementation we requested, it is an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of our concerns and will provide carriers with some relief and ability to pass the increased toll costs along,” added OTA president, David Bradley.
OTA is now calling on the MDOT to introduce a discount program for frequent crossers who pre-pay accounts, similar to a program tha’s in place on the Canadian side.
“We strongly encourage MDOT to introduce this program, so users may receive the same discounts/exemptions enjoyed by those crossing the Bridge from the Canadian side,” Bradley said.
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