(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
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
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
Passenger vehicle traffic growth
across the Ontario-Michigan border grew by approximately 72% over the
Canadian exports to the United
States, as a whole, reflect an annual growth of 6.2% between 1988 and
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 Canada
between 1998 and 1999, indicate volume increases of over 10%. The current
January traffic counts indicate that this 10% growth continues in
The Canadian portion of the Blue Water
Bridge is owned and operated by The Blue Water Bridge Canada (B.W.B.C.).
The B.W.B.C. was created as a corporation in 1964 by The Blue Water Bridge
Canada Act. The B.W.B.C. 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.C. 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 Canada with respect to increasing toll
rates. Therefore, the B.W.B.C. can make increases to the current toll
structure to reflect market conditions.
The B.W.B.C. 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.C. with the toll collection flexibility to meet future
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
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.