Petainen named General Manager of International Bridge Administration

Fast facts:

  • Peter M. Petainen has been named the new manager of the International Bridge Authority (IBA) in Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Petainen, 44, who has been the IBA’s chief financial officer for the past 14 years, began his new position on Feb. 28.
  • He becomes the first Canadian to hold the post.

Petainen, Peter (MDOT)March 1, 2016 — Peter M. Petainen has been appointed as the new general manager at the International Bridge Administration (IBA) in Sault Ste. Marie by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). He is succeeding Phil Becker, who retired in January after serving as IBA manager since 2001.

Petainen, 44, who has been guiding the International Bridge’s day-to-day finance and long-term business goals as the IBA’s chief financial officer for the past 14 years, began his new position on Feb. 28.

“In his new role, Peter is responsible for the overall maintenance and operations of the bridge,” MDOT Chief Administrative Officer Laura Mester said. “He’ll also continue to foster the bridge’s already good community relations and customer service, as well as maintain the strong partnerships with the border crossing agencies on the U.S. and Canadian sides.”

The bridge manager reports to the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) board of directors, the bi-national body that supervises operations of the International Bridge. The bridge is jointly owned by the U.S. (MDOT) and Canada’s Federal Bridge Corporation Limited (FBCL). The IBA employs residents in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, equally.

Petainen said ensuring the bridge remains a catalyst to cross-border trade and travel – rather than an impediment – will be his main focus.

“As a joint partnership with MDOT and FBCL, we want to continue our outreach to the communities,” Petainen said. “We want to provide a high standard of customer service, and maintain a safe and open connection between the two Saults.”

FBCL President and Chief Executive Officer Micheline Dubé said, “I am truly delighted that Peter was promoted as the new general manager of the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge. FBCL has worked with Peter for many years through Canada’s partnership with MDOT in managing this important bi-national asset. His professional skills, limitless energy and motivation have earned him this success. We are confident that he will continue the legacy of excellence at the bridge and effectively lead the organization in the future.”

The IBA recently completed a major $8.9 million reconstruction of the U.S. plaza and IBA offices on budget and eight months ahead of schedule. Painting projects and bridge bearing and rocker link repairs are slated for this year.

“For the future, my goal is to continue to refine our bridge asset management principles so we can continue to deliver capital projects cost-effectively, with minimal to no disruption to bridge customers,” Petainen said.

Petainen is a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and graduated from Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, with a bachelors degree in accounting. He served for 15 years in the Canadian Forces, where he worked as a flight instructor and administrator, retiring in 2006 with the rank of captain and was the commanding officer of the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Air Cadet Squadron. In 2010, he received the MDOT Directors Award. He lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, with his wife Paula, daughter Ariana, and son Matthew.

“Peter was chosen from a selection of highly qualified candidates,” SSMBA Vice Chair Helen Gillespie said. “He’s shown himself to be capable and able to provide leadership and fiscal responsibility while maintaining the integrity of the bridge. We’re also excited that Peter is the first IBA general manager who is a Canadian.”

The operation and maintenance of the International Bridge is totally self-funded, primarily through bridge tolls. It is not subsidized by any state, provincial or federal government entity. For more information on the International Bridge, please visit or, or follow us on Twitter at

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