Slumping traffic threatens northern Ontario crossing

SAULT Ste. MARIE — The International Bridge linking the Canadian and American Saults has reportedly seen some of the biggest drops in traffic among all border crossings.

Traffic on the International Bridge had 110,000 trucks
cross in 2006 — down from its peak of 146,000 in 1999.

Commercial cross-border traffic between Canada and its biggest trading partner has dipped in the last few years, but according to the Sault Star, transport volume at northern Ontario’s International Bridge has fallen 7.1 percent in 2006 and is slumping another 10.2 percent in the first half of 2007.

The bridge could lose as much as $400,000 US in anticipated toll revenues this year. Fewer than 110,000 trucks could cross between the twin towns this year — the lowest number since 1993. At its highest peak, the bridge accommodated 146,000 truck crossings in 1999.

Commercial traffic represents about seven percent of bridge traffic, but contributes nearly half of all toll revenue.

Phil Becker, general manager of Joint International Bridge Authority, told the Star that the low revenue could impact the operations and maintenance of the bridge.

A slumping U.S. housing market has taken away many loads of lumber and building materials (estimated to make up about 40 percent of crossings). And a high Canadian dollar doesn’t help other exports to the U.S.

— with files from the Sault Star

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