Who We Are
(Taken from the McCormick Rankin Corporation April 2000 BWB Traffic Study)
The Blue Water Bridge crosses the St. Clair River, connecting the communities of Point Edward/Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan. The Blue Water Bridge connects Highway 402 in Ontario with I-94 in Michigan, which provides south westerly access to the following Metropolitan areas: Detroit, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; Chicago, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Blue Water Bridge also provides access to Indianapolis, Indiana via I-69, and to St. Louis, Missouri via I-94 and I-55.
The initial 3-lane Blue Water Bridge construction was completed in 1938 with a main span across the St. Clair River of 875 feet. A new 3-lane bridge span was constructed and opened for traffic in 1997, while the original bridge underwent major deck rehabilitation. This major deck rehabilitation was completed in 1999. In the fall of 1999, both bridge spans were opened to traffic flows, providing 3 lanes of traffic capacity in each direction. Since the Blue Water Bridge was opened, the traffic volumes have grown from approximately 155,000 total vehicles in 1939 to approximately 5.5 million total vehicles in 1999.
The Blue Water Bridge is an essential economic link between Ontario and Michigan as well as a wider economic corridor through the United States and southerly to Mexico. The importance of the Blue Water Bridge as a major traffic/economic link between Canada and the United States, as well as between Ontario and Michigan, is demonstrated by the following statistics:
- Approximately 42% of all Canada-United States trade flows through the Southwestern Ontario - Michigan Frontier Gateway, of which approximately 74% is moved by trucks.
- Total traffic growth across the Ontario-Michigan border grew by approximately 85% between 1984 and 1998.
- Truck traffic growth across the Ontario-Michigan border grew by approximately 167% between 1984 and 1998.
- Passenger vehicle traffic growth across the Ontario-Michigan border grew by approximately 72% over the same period.
- Canadian exports to the United States, as a whole, reflect an annual growth of 6.2% between 1988 and 1995.
The Blue Water Bridge currently ranks as the fourth busiest Ontario international crossing for total vehicles and is the second busiest for number of commercial vehicle (truck) crossings. The Blue Water Bridge has experienced a substantial increase in commercial vehicle traffic from approximately 450,000 vehicles in 1984 to approximately 1,500,000 in 1999.
There are currently approximately 6,000 commercial vehicles crossing the Blue Water Bridge daily. Comparisons of westbound truck statistics collected by Blue Water Bridge between 1998 and 1999, indicate volume increases of over 10%. The current January traffic counts indicate that this 10% growth continues in 2000.
The Canadian portion of the Blue Water Bridge is owned and operated by The Blue Water Bridge (B.W.B). The B.W.B was created as a corporation in 1964 by The Blue Water Bridge Act. The B.W.B is responsible for the Canadian plaza operations, maintenance of the Canadian side of the bridge, capital infrastructure improvements, and toll collection. Specifically, the B.W.B is responsible for the toll collection for westbound traffic (Canada to United States) and the provision of toll collection booths, Customs & Immigration booths and bridge capacity.
There is no statutory legislation that restricts The Blue Water Bridge with respect to increasing toll rates. Therefore, the B.W.B can make increases to the current toll structure to reflect market conditions.
The B.W.B recently implemented a new "state of the art" electronic toll system that improves both the collection and system accounting processes. This new equipment provides the B.W.B with the toll collection flexibility to meet future requirements.
Over the past 30 years, there has been a large amount of growth in both traffic and trade between Canada and the United States. Traffic crossing the border between Ontario and the Northern United States has increased from 26.9 million vehicles in 1972 to 51.2 million in 1998, representing an increase in traffic of approximately 90%. During this same time period, trade between Canada and the United States has increased by over 350%.
There are currently 11 bridge crossings and 5 rail crossings between Ontario and the Northern United States to accommodate the traffic and trade. These crossings are essential services in their role as traffic and trade corridors between Canada and the United States.
In this regard, the Blue Water Bridge assists in providing this essential service as it is the fourth busiest Ontario international crossing for total vehicles and the second busiest for the number of commercial vehicle crossings.