November 9, 2012 — At its quarterly meeting today in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) Board of Directors approved a $7.7 million (U.S.) budget for 2013, including funding for the toll plaza redevelopment project.
The budget, as recommended by the International Bridge Administration (IBA), includes revenues of $7.7 million with $7.2 million from toll collections and $486,680 from lease, interest, and service fee income. Budget expenditures include $4.7 million for day-to-day operations, including bridge maintenance and toll collection. The largest expenditure in the $3 million budgeted capital expenditures is $2 million for the start of construction for the toll plaza redevelopment project in 2013.
“The two-year plaza redevelopment project is expected to cost $6.7 million,” said IBA General Manager Phil Becker. “The design is nearly complete and we plan to advertise the project for construction bids in March or April, with construction starting in June 2013,” said Becker.
The IBA has engineering studies that say the 50-year-old buildings and toll booths are energy inefficient, functionally obsolete and have served their useful life. The project also will address southbound traffic congestion and truck turning concerns.
“The close proximity of the toll booths to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection truck unloading docks in place since 2006 does not provide the necessary space for trucks exiting the docks to turn and go through the toll lanes straight,” says Bridge Engineer Karl Hansen. “Truck drivers leaving the docks often need to back up into oncoming car traffic to get straightened up to proceed through the toll booths.”
The project will reconstruct the southbound toll booths up to 100 feet further south to address the truck turning problem and eliminate the congestion problem it causes. The project will include relocation of toll booths further south, as well as construction of a new adjacent administration building. This will require reconstructing the I-75 ramps immediately south of the plaza. That work will not impact the existing Michigan Welcome Center.
“A lot of effort has been put into project staging to minimize disruption to toll traffic,” said Becker. “There will be public informational meetings this winter and we will keep our customers informed of anticipated toll traffic changes during construction.”
In other business, the board elected officers for 2013. Jim McIntyre of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, was elected chair, and Linda Hoath of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., was elected vice chair.
The operation and maintenance of the International Bridge is completely funded from bridge revenue, primarily from toll collections, and receives no funding from any state, provincial, or federal source.
Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge “Celebrating 50 Years of International Friendship, 1962 – 2012”