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2011 traffic on the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge hits nine-year high

Contact: Phil Becker, International Bridge Administration, 906-635-5255, ext. 112
Agency: Transportation

January 6, 2012 -- Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge traffic hit a nine-year high in 2011, with nearly 2 million crossings.

The International Bridge Administration (IBA) reports total crossings for 2011 was 1,998,068, which is 9.27 percent above 2010 totals. Statistics for the three main traffic categories include automobile traffic, which was up 6.3 percent; commuter fare automobile traffic, which was up 14.4 percent; and commercial truck traffic, which was down 3.7 percent compared to 2010. Customers using the "Prox" commuter card made up the largest segment of traffic in 2011, with 47.9 percent using the discounted fare program. The IBA reports that December 2011 marked the 26th consecutive month in which monthly traffic exceeded the corresponding month's total the previous year.

The IBA reports that December traffic was up 6.5 percent compared to December 2010. More than 7,100 vehicles crossed on Dec. 22, making it the second-busiest traffic day of the year.

Commercial truck traffic in 2011 did not fare as well, and did not rebound from the gradual decline that began in 2005. The IBA reports that truck traffic totaled 95,900 crossings in 2011, which is the lowest annual total since 1993.

"We monitor truck traffic trends very closely, and in 2011 commercial trucks made up 4.9 percent of total traffic, with those tolls making up 31 percent of total toll revenue," said IBA General Manager Phil Becker. "Clearly there are significant factors affecting cross-border traffic at play, such as the continued sluggish U.S. economy and the strong Canadian dollar."

Unaudited figures indicate toll revenue was $7.34 million (U.S. dollars), which is $500,000, or 7.4 percent, more than 2010. Likewise, unaudited figures indicate toll revenue was 8.1 percent above 2011 budgeted revenue.

IBA-budgeted expenditures for bridge operation, maintenance, and repairs totaled $5.27 million, slightly below the $5.79 budgeted in 2010. The IBA estimates that financial reserves will total approximately $8.2 million (U.S.) at the end of 2011.

"Our goal is to build up our financial reserves for a series of bridge painting, concrete deck rehabilitation, and toll plaza projects needed within the next 15 years that are estimated to cost nearly $50 million (U.S.)," said Becker.

Tolls and fees collected at the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge are the only sources of funding for the operation, maintenance, and repair of the bridge and toll plaza. The IBA does not receive any state, federal, or provincial funding for bridge operation, maintenance, and repair.

Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge: Bridging Our Past, Connecting Our Future