International crossings celebrate switch to new toll systems
– Two international bridge crossings on the Ontario-Michigan border officially dedicated updated tolling systems today.
– Under a $9.3 million contract, the International Bridge (connecting Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, with Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) and the Blue Water Bridge (connecting Port Huron, Michigan, to Point Edward, Ontario) have modernized their toll systems.
– Benefits of the new tolling system for both bridges include administrative cost savings, technological upgrades and improved customer service.
POINT EDWARD, Ontario – The agencies in charge of two international bridge crossings on the Ontario-Michigan border cut the ribbons on a new tolling system today.
Under a $9.3 million contract, the previous toll systems at the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge (connecting Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, with Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) and the Blue Water Bridge (connecting Port Huron, Michigan, to Point Edward, Ontario) have been modernized.
The contract is administered for the cross-border partnership by the International Bridge Administration (IBA) through an agreement between the IBA, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and The Federal Bridge Corporation Limited (FBCL). Representatives from all three agencies gathered in Point Edward this morning to celebrate the successful launch of the system.
”We’re here today to celebrate this great collaborative effort in building a software solution for our future tolling needs,” said Natalie Kinloch, chief executive officer of FBCL. ”The transition has gone smoothly and, going forward, this new system will help us realize many efficiencies by sharing a common platform between our partner bridges. This translates to great value for the citizens of Canada and the state of Michigan while providing a better experience for bridge users.”
By working together, the bridges have saved an estimated 36 percent on upfront costs. Over the course of the next decade, projected savings could be on the order of $6.5 million to $7 million.
The contract costs of the new system are being shared equally by the IBA, MDOT and FBCL, a Canadian Crown corporation wholly owned by the Government of Canada. Through its board, the International Bridge is managed as a joint venture of FBCL and MDOT. The U.S. portion of the Blue Water Bridge is a State of Michigan entity.
”We expect to gain a lot from this new, technologically up-to-date system: greater flexibility in toll payment solutions, easier management of devices in the system, and increased accuracy and reliability,” said MDOT Chief Administrative Officer Laura Mester. ”For our customers, we foresee a whole host of benefits.”
The toll system is now live on both the U.S. and Canadian sides of the Blue Water Bridge and the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge. Prime contractor IBI Group and their team of professionals, working in close cooperation with the bi-national team, implemented the system and will provide operations and maintenance support for up to 10 years for toll software services.
While a boon for the bridge agencies, the biggest benefits of the new system will be for customers.
Over time, all three operators plan to discontinue the current card-based systems and transition to more convenient radio frequency identification (RFID) windshield tags that are automatically read by the toll system when customers pull into a lane. RFID tags purchased from any of the three agencies will work at any of the crossings, although customers will have to maintain accounts with each agency.
Website and account access will be standardized for all three bridge agencies for improved customer experience. New web portals will allow customers to manage accounts more effectively. This will include the ability to review transactions, make one-time payments or set up automatic payments, request new or replacement tags, cancel tags, generate statements, and more.
Mobile phone apps for managing toll accounts will be available for Apple and Android devices. Mobile payment options, along with new credit payment options, are available at select locations.
For information on specific features of the new tolling system at each crossing, check with the appropriate bridge website:
• Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge: tolls.saultbridge.com
• Blue Water Bridge Michigan side (MDOT): www.BlueWaterBridge.us
• Blue Water Bridge Canadian side (FBCL): www.federalbridge.ca/connexion/
Representatives from the Sault St. Marie International Bridge, The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Blue Water Bridge, and The Federal Bridge Corporation Limited (FBCL) celebrated the deployment of a new toll system at all three agencies with a ribbon cutting in Point Edward, Ontario, this morning. (FBCL photo)
Staff from the International Bridge Administration cut the ribbon on the new toll system at the International Bridge between Sault Ste. Marie Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie Ontario. (MDOT photo)
Staff from the Blue Water Bridge cut the ribbon on the new tolling system on the U.S. side of the bridge connecting Port Huron, Michigan, with Point Edward, Ontario. (MDOT photo)