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Loonie's rise impacting some tolls at Blue Water Bridge

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The Canadian dollar’s recent rise has led to changes in some tolls on the two sides of the Blue Water Bridge.

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Passenger vehicle tolls paid in Canadian currency on the Michigan side of the crossing will drop by a quarter to $3.75 on Oct. 1, says the Michigan’s Department of Transportation.

At the same time, tolls paid in U.S. currency on the Canadian side of the bridge will go up by 25 cents to $4, according to the Federal Bridge Corporation operating the Canadian half of the crossing’s two spans.

“We’re constantly looking at what the exchange rates are and then we average it out over a six-month period,” said Todd Kealey, spokesperson for the Federal Bridge Corporation.

“In this case, (the Michigan department) saw the Canadian dollar as stronger so they lowered their Canadian rate, and we saw the opposite side of the coin – the American dollar as weaker – therefore we increased our American rate by 25 cents,” he said.

Rates at the bridge are reviewed twice a year, with the next review set for April 2022.

The change in October isn’t expected to have much impact on the Canadian side of the bridge for now because “we’re not, technically, accepting cash” at the toll booths because of pandemic considerations, Kealey said.

Travellers heading to Michigan over the bridge are being instructed to pay with debit, credit cards or the bridge corporation’s contactless ConneXion prepaid toll program.

“We’ll go back to cash once, I think, things settle a little more,” Kealey said. “For now, the official position is we don’t take cash to minimize the exchanges between people.”

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The corporation also looks at its costs and other factors every six months to determine if there should be an adjustment in overall toll rates.

“In this case, they didn’t change,” Kealey said.

Tolls on the Canadian half of the bridge increased in April of this year for the first time since 2018.

Canada recently allowed fully vaccinated Americans to enter through land borders for non-essential trips, but Canadians are still unable to cross into the U.S. unless their trip is determined to be essential.

Commercial truck traffic, in both directions, has continued during the pandemic.

Kealey said the recent change in Canada’s rules “did have a small effect” on crossings at the Bluewater Bridge where, like other land crossings, passenger vehicle traffic plunged during the pandemic.

“You can say it even more than doubled our transactions, but the reality is that two times virtually nothing is still pretty small,” he said.

“We’re still seeing insignificant volumes but they are higher than they were maybe a month ago.”

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