For the owners and operators of the Canadian side of the Blue Water Bridge, it continues to be a “sure and steady” series of improvements to the nation’s second busiest international commercial crossing, with some of the most visible evidence of those changes outlined to media earlier this week.
Todd Kealey, director of marketing, communications and government relations for the Federal Bridge Corporation, who explained the changes, began a tour in front of the organization’s new administration centre on Venetian Boulevard, the construction of which made possible the recent demolition of the former administration.
That removal, plus the replacement of telecommunications lines and substantial upgrading of electrical services throughout the plaza area, have positioned the operator for even further improvements, some of which include better lighting in the parking area for the hundreds of trucks that cross into Canada on a daily basis.
Perhaps one of the most visible changes related to the international crossing, which ranks third in the nation for total traffic, is a newly built emergency routing for trucks that try to enter Canada from the U.S. but are denied for whatever reason.
Before the roadway was built (it will be opened for use once electronic signalling systems are tested), officials from Canada Border Services would have to escort vehicles through streets in Point Edward before eventually entering the Bridge to head back to the U.S.
Now, those “denied” trucks are directed on a private roadway that is secure in that there is no way to physically enter public space, essentially meaning that they are never released into Canada.
Kealey explained that future improvements which will be completed in stages include the addition of washrooms, showers and fast-food outlets that will serve to make travelers into Canada feel more welcome.
All these improvements are ultimately paid for by bridge tolls, although any fast-food operators (still to be selected) would become tenants of the Federal Bridge Corporation.
While some of those changes are months if not years away, some are more likely to be installed this year, including electric vehicle charging stations that would (for a price equivalent to the prevailing rate for electricity) give a full charge within about 20 minutes.
Further down the road, chargers capable of meeting the needs of electric transport trucks are being eyed, said Kealey.
One technological advancement that’s already been in place for some months now is a system—ConneXion—which combines electronic tags that drivers attach to the inside of their windshields. Scanners positioned in toll lanes then read the tags and deduct money from a driver’s account that is periodically topped up with funds from a credit card.
About 5,000 drivers have already registered for the system, which can be set up at this LINK.