Ambitious development plans at Blue Water Bridge
The Federal Bridge Corporation Limited (FBCL) is rolling out some big plans at the Blue Water Bridge.
The corporation’s current master plan, last updated in 2015, includes the widening of Front Street, a wholesale review of the tolling facility, and charging stations for both private and commercial vehicles.
Bridge officials took local reporters on a tour of bridge operations Tuesday afternoon, showing them a new emergency return road that’s nearing completion.
Director of Communications Todd Kealey said the next big step is to construct more amenities and services in the vacant central area of the plaza, where a former administration building was recently demolished.
“We could see some food services, more bathrooms and showers, there could be a convenience store and things of that nature. That will come about probably over the next five to seven years,” he said.
Kealey said the message to the community is that the FBCL continues to invest in the bridge.
“We keep doing continuous improvements such as little things like LED lighting in the plaza, new security cameras and a lot more integrated security infrastructure to keep things flowing as efficiently as possible,” he said.
Kealey said another improvement they rolled out last October is making commuting over the bridge quicker and cheaper.
He said their new tag reader system, a small device drivers tape to the inside of their windshield, is used by roughly 5,000 drivers.
“When they appear at a toll it recognizes the account and makes sure there’s enough money in the account, then it opens the gate for them. It’s a lot faster than a manual attendant,” said Kealey. “Plus an added bonus is that connection users get a 25 cent per axle discount, so typically a 50 cent discount per vehicle crossing into the US.”
Kealey said of the 5,000 vehicles that cross into the US per day about 500 drivers use the new system.
He said the plan is to establish the system at the other FBCL owned and operated bridges in Ontario in the near future.
The Blue Water Bridge between Point Edward and Port Huron, Michigan is the second busiest commercial crossing in Canada, only behind Windsor’s Ambassador Bridge.
The corporation generates about $40 million per year mostly through tolls and 60 per cent of that revenue is generated at the Blue Water Bridge.