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International Bridge 50th Anniversary celebration events announced

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

February 23, 2012 -- At its quarterly meeting today, the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) Board of Directors gave the final nod to the 50th Anniversary community celebration plan presented by the International Bridge Administration (IBA).

The theme of the celebration is "Celebrating International Friendship."

"The celebration events, festivities, and initiatives that are planned were developed with our bi-national community in mind," said IBA General Manager Phil Becker. "The goal of the plan is to commemorate what the bridge has meant to citizens in our twin cities, the province of Ontario, the state of Michigan, and our two great nations over the last 50 years."

The list of initiatives and public events scheduled includes:

- The 50th anniversary decorative bridge lighting celebration and fireworks planned for Thursday, June 28;
- The 26th Annual International Bridge Walk on Saturday, June 30, which will include a bike parade across the bridge and back that is being organized in a joint effort by the bike clubs of Sault, Ontario, and Sault, Mich.;
- A "Crossing Conversations" Web site where citizens are invited to post historical photos and share personal stories of their own experiences with the bridge and the predecessor ferry boat. The site will go live in June;
- A traveling historical display and historical photo presentation that will make its way around the twin cities for public viewing from June through October;
- The 50th Anniversary celebration on Wednesday, Oct. 31, which is the official date the bridge opened to traffic in 1962. The event will include commemorative gifts for bridge users and a 50th Anniversary plaque unveiling;
- Limited edition commemorative Prox Cards the IBA will be issuing during the year;
- A children's coloring book contest that begins Monday, March 5, and will conclude on June 1; and
- A bridge modeling contest that begins Monday, March 5, and will conclude on Sept. 29.

More information on each of these events and initiatives will be announced and posted to the IBA Web site: www.michigan.gov/iba.

"Over the past year we have worked closely with representatives from the two cities and the chambers of commerce in developing this celebration plan so that there would be many opportunities for public involvement," said Becker.

Since it was first opened to traffic in 1962, more than 92 million vehicles have crossed the bridge. More than $1.8 billion in trade crosses the bridge annually.

The bridge is jointly operated and maintained through a partnership agreement between Canada and Michigan. The day-to-day maintenance, toll collection, and administration duties are conducted by the IBA, a public agency that reports to the SSMBA, a bi-national board of directors that represent the governmental owners of the bridge, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the St. Mary's River Bridge Company (SMRBC).

The bridge operation is financially self-sufficient based on tolls and fee revenue, and receives no operational subsidy from state, provincial, or federal sources.

Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge "Celebrating 50 Years of International Friendship, 1962 - 2012"