SARNIA, Ont. — The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is threatening to increase tolls for northbound commercial vehicles crossing the Blue Water Bridge from US$1.75 per axle to US$3.25/axle.
The proposed toll increase is not sitting well with the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) which is lobbying MDOT to reconsider.
“OTA recognizes the need for infrastructure improvement at the Blue Water Bridge. However, a more incremental cost recovery system that allows for adequate pre-planning plan is a more palatable approach and would visit less disruption and hardship on all concerned than a one-time massive hit,” said OTA president David Bradley.
The OTA acknowledged that toll increases have not increased at the Blue Water Bridge since 1997 and that the tolls collected on the Canadian side are higher than in the US. However, Bradley said “These facts are self-evident but timing and approach are all wrong. OTA considers it entirely unreasonable and inappropriate that an 85% price hike would be imposed in one fell swoop, with such short notice. Given the current economic times, and the stress that has already been imposed on Michigan-Ontario trade increases of this magnitude are untimely to say the least.”
The OTA pointed out to the MDOT that over 80% of Michigan’s exports to Canada move by truck and that the increase could add US$8 million per year in transportation costs to the state’s exports.
“The state needs to understand that transportation services are generally provided under fixed contracts with shippers. Motor carriers cannot simply rip up their contracts with their customers to adjust their rates to take account of the toll increases. OTA will be making this point when we appear before MDOT in Lansing on December 1st,” said Bradley.
OTA then put forth recommendation, including: that MDOT withdraw its proposal and introduce a more incremental increase in tolls over a reasonable time period; or at the very least that MDOT delay its toll increase for at least six months to give fleets time to adjust pricing. OTA is also asking MDOT to provide discounts and exemptions for fleets that use the automated pre-paid account system.
Concerned carriers and owner/operators are encouraged to submit their own thoughts with the MDOT at: Robert Parsons, Bureau of Transportation Planning, MDOT, P.O. Box 30050, Lansing, MI 48909, e-mail at email@example.com, or fax 517-373-9255. All written comments should be postmarked on or before Dec. 16, 2009.
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