New Toll Lanes for Soo, No New Discounts for Trucks

 

SAULT STE. MARIE — New toll lanes have opened at the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, but truckers won’t be able to take part in a new discounted toll rate program.

According to International Bridge Administration (IBA) that runs the span connecting Canada and the U.S., the new lanes feature new tolling software and improved convenience for bridge customers.

All three permanent northbound lanes and two permanent southbound lanes have been fully open since last Wednesday.

The remaining two permanent southbound lanes are slated to go online in late September after the demolition of the old IBA administration building. When complete, the toll plaza will have four southbound and three northbound lanes.

Existing IQ Prox accounts for toll collections will be moved into a new toll software system. Prox card readers will now be available on the exterior of the toll booths, in addition to automated gates and patron fare displays. Additional online features are coming soon, according to IBA.

“The new system will eventually include online Prox card customer accounts and many other convenience features,” said Peter Petainen, chief financial officer for the IBA. “Customers will be able to access their account information online, review their statements and account usage, request additional cards, and even set up account balance replenishment in their choice of currency using Visa cards.”

After the toll lanes and customer accounts are transferred to the new system, and account data has been verified, the new toll website will go live. Online accounts are expected to be available Aug. 17.

The new system features account auto replenishment, with preset amounts determined by the customer. All current accounts will have 24- months of account history automatically transferred to the new system.

The new toll system also ushers in a new frequent user discount rate structure, based on Prox card use over the previous 30 days, however this discounts are only available for four wheelers, according to a Michigan DOT spokesman.

The new frequent user discount rate structure was approved in 2013 by the IBA’s board after public hearings as part of a multiphase toll increase.

The toll software upgrades, necessary because the current software is obsolete and will no longer be supported, will cost US$2.4 million over 10 years, according to IBA. The upgrades are part of a US$7 million project undertaken in coordination with the Mackinac Bridge Authority and the Michigan portion of the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.

The IBA’s toll system upgrade is also being coordinated with the larger US$8.9 million toll plaza reconstruction effort. The project is funded from toll revenue reserves the IBA has set aside in short-term investments over the past 10 years.

There is also a listing of commercial vehicle toll rates on the bridge website.

 

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