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Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge toll to increase Oct. 1

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. ­and Ontario - Toll rate increases recently approved by the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) will take effect Oct. 1. 

The toll rate increase will be accompanied by a currency equity adjustment. The Canadian currency toll rate will be raised due to a weaker Canadian dollar over the last six months as identified in a twice-a-year review conducted by bridge officials.

"We are required to maintain currency equity in bridge toll rates, so the scheduled toll increase will be accompanied by a currency equity adjustment for the new rates effective Oct. 1," said International Bridge Administration (IBA) Bridge Manager Peter Petainen.

At its Aug. 16 meeting in Ottawa, Canada, the SSMBA, the bridge’s governing body, approved semiannual toll increases, averaging 4.7 percent per year for commercial vehicles and 2.9 percent per year for passenger vehicles, over the next decade.

The toll increase is the culmination of a review of the bridge's long-range financial plan by the bridge authority. The SSMBA reviewed detailed operational and capital improvement project needs before considering the toll increase proposal.

"This toll increase will not fully address the projected long term capital deficit," Petainen explained. "But the increase is a measured approach toward building the reserve fund necessary to pay for planned capital improvement projects in the next 10 years."

The revenue generated by the revised toll rates will help the bridge preserve its critical cross-border connection in the face of higher operational and maintenance costs.  At its discretion, the SSMBA board may suspend or delay proposed rate increases.

The first of the scheduled increases will see the full U.S. currency passenger vehicle fare for users paying with cash or credit go from $4 to $4.10 on Oct. 1. The commercial rate will increase by 25 U.S. cents per axle.

The Canadian currency passenger vehicle rate will rise to $5.50 after a 10-cent currency equity adjustment is applied. The commercial rate will increase by 25 cents Canadian per axle. Base fares are set in U.S. dollars and Canadian fares are adjusted every six months depending on the average six-month exchange rate. The full schedule of U.S. and Canadian currency toll rates can be viewed online at  

In concert with the toll increases, the SSMBA will make changes to increase the discount available to eligible commuters. Prepaid commuter program participants making up to four crossings per month will see a 10 percent discount. Commuters making five to eight crossings per month will see a 20 percent discount. Those crossing nine or more times per month will realize a 35 percent discount.

“We encourage our frequent customers to consider taking advantage of our commuter discount program with the convenient new RFID tag system,” IBA Chief Financial Officer Emily Jacques said. “Our new system offers an improved customer experience and a new web portal so customers can manage their accounts online more effectively.”