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T.I. Bridge operators: toll hike shows little impact on traffic

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COLLINS LANDING — The toll rate increase at the Thousand Islands International Bridge at the beginning of the year has had practically no impact on bridge traffic, according to operators.

From Jan. 1 through April, passenger traffic across the bridge decreased by 1.8 percent — from 421,169 to 413,300 crossings — compared with the same period in 2012.

Commercial traffic, however, increased 2.6 percent — from 119,537 to 122,754 truck crossings — over the same period.

Robert G. Horr III, executive director of the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, said no one has complained about the higher toll rates and the authority will have a much better idea of how the rate hike affected crossings by the end of September.

Effective Jan. 1, the bridge started charging passenger, or two-axle, vehicles $2.75 — up 10 percent from $2.50 — putting its rate on par with the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge.

The commercial rate for trucks and buses is now $6.50 — up 8 percent from $6 — for the first two axles. Each additional two axles will cost $1.50, up from $1.25.

Bridge operators at the time said they did not foresee any negative impacts on bridge crossings or tourism.

Mr. Horr had said the rate increases will offset rising maintenance costs and pay for several coming projects, such as the redecking of the U.S. and Canadian bridges and installation of an E-ZPass system at toll booths.

The rate hike has led to a 17 percent, or $350,255, increase in the bridge’s toll revenue over the same 4-month period last year.

The authority last increased toll rates in 2007 — after holding the rate steady for 23 years — and decided at the time to increase its rates incrementally in the future.

It now reviews its rates every five years.

So far this month, both passenger traffic and commercial traffic have been increasing at the bridge as the summer tourist season kicks off in the Thousand Islands region.

For the first 14 days of May, passenger traffic over the bridge increased by 3.1 percent, or 1,786 vehicles, and commercial crossings rose by 3.4 percent — or 2,288 more trucks — over the same period in 2012.

Annually, more than 2 million vehicles cross the international bridge connecting Collins Landing to Ivy Lea, Ontario.

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