INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE ADMINISTRATION
Toll rate increases approved by the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) in November 2013 will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, April 1.
The toll rate increase will be accompanied by a currency equity adjustment.
The Canadian currency toll rate will be raised due to a weak Canadian dollar over the last six months as identified by a twice-a-year review conducted by bridge officials.
"We are required to maintain currency equity in bridge toll rates, so the scheduled toll increase will be accompanied by a currency equity adjustment for the new rates effective April 1," said International Bridge Administration (IBA) General Manager Phil Becker.
The increase and currency equity adjustment apply to both commercial and passenger vehicle classifications, with the U.S. currency passenger vehicle toll increasing from $3 to $3.50 on April 1.
The Canadian currency rate will rise to $3.70 after the 20 cent currency equity adjustment is applied.
The full schedule of U.S. and Canadian currency toll rates can be viewed on the bridge website: www.saultbridge.com.
The toll rate increases approved by the SSMBA also included a refinement of the terms of the frequent user "Prox Card" program in place at the crossing.
However, those refinements will not be implemented until later this year after a new toll software system goes online.
Prox Card users currently get a 30 percent discount on tolls, with account expiry after 122 days with no usage.
The discounted rate will be $2.45 (USD) or $2.60 (CDN) after the toll increase.
The bridge authority will provide detailed information on the refinements as well as the implementation schedule later this year.
The bridge authority also has approved a subsequent toll increase from $3.50 to $4 (USD) for passenger vehicles to be effective April 1, 2019.
A full schedule of the April 1, 2019, U.S. currency toll rates for all vehicle classifications is available on the bridge website: www.saultbridge.com.
The toll increase is the culmination of a yearlong review of the bridge's long-range financial plan by the bridge authority.
The SSMBA reviewed detailed operational and capital improvement project needs for the next 30 years before considering the toll increase proposal.
"Capital improvement projects expected to cost about $54.7 million (USD) are needed over the next 15 years to keep the bridge and plaza facilities structurally sound and operationally safe," said Becker. "It is important to remember that all toll revenues are dedicated to covering the operational, maintenance and capital costs for the bridge."
Becker said the 51-year-old bridge will continue to operate on a not-for-profit basis.
The bridge is completely financially self-sustaining, primarily through toll revenue, and receives no financial subsidy for operations from any other governmental source.