OTA urges delay of major toll hike at Blue Water

LANSING, Mich. — Nearly doubling truck tolls on the Blue Water Bridge during these fragile economic times "is unreasonable and cannot be absorbed by carriers who operate under contracts with their shippers."

That’s what Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) President David Bradley told Michigan officials this week at public hearings into a proposed 85 percent increase in per axle tolls at the bridge connecting Port Huron, Mich. and Sarnia, Ont.

The OTA says it was the only group representing the trucking industry that showed up at the hearings.

As todaystrucking.com reported in October, The Michigan Department of Transportation wants to increase the commercial truck toll from $1.75 to $3.25 per axle starting on Jan. 5, 2010, and hike the passenger car fee from $1.50 to $3.00, effective January 5. (OTA estimates this would lead to $8 million in additional industry costs).

MDOT defends the increase on the basis that the Blue Water lowest tolls of any of the major bridges and has not increased its tolls for 13 years.

Bradley acknowledged this disparity, but insisted that such a large increase "in one fell swoop" would be damaging to truckers in the current economic climate.

He noted that the tolls at other bridges, including the Canadian side of the Blue Water, had been raised gradually over many years, which helped the supply chain deal with them in a more orderly and manageable fashion.

Bradley urged MDOT to withdraw its proposal or to at least provide a minimum six-month notice so that industry can plan for the change. He also said that carriers using the automatic pre-paid account system should get a discount on whatever the new tolls are – something that the MDOT proposal did not include.

MDOT told OTA that it had been receiving written comment from carriers. Carrier members are urged to continue to make their views known.

Carriers can express their thoughts with the MDOT proposal to Robert Parsons, Bureau of Transportation Planning, MDOT, P.O. Box 30050, Lansing, MI 48909, e-mail at parsonsb@michigan.gov or fax comments to 517-373-9255. 

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