COLUMN: Lower bridge, higher tolls

MORRISBURG — On August 1st, tolls at the Seaway International Bridge will increase to $3.50 Canadian per crossing, which is at par with the current rate at the Ogdensburg International Bridge. This is an unacceptable and unnecessary money-grab by the SIBC. Granted, it is “only a quarter” as some commenters to Cornwall Newswatch have stated, but this quarter increase does not make sense; in fact the tolls should be decreasing, not increasing.

The Seaway International Bridge Corporation is undergoing a $75 million project with the replacement of the North Channel or Canadian Span. The new low-level bridge opened last year, and the old bridge is in the process of being slowly demolished.  The project also will cover the site remediation of the locations the old bridge was. That project whole project was funded entirely by the Federal Government, not by the SIBC.

The Seaway International Bridge Corporation is not paying a cent for the new North Channel bridge. Zero. Ziltch. Nada. We, the taxpayers, are, but not the SIBC.

With a new low-level bridge, comes lower maintenance costs. The savings in no longer having the maintenance headache of the old North Channel Bridge could be invested into the South Channel Bridge, or into the connector roads on Cornwall Island, which are considered rough at best.  Instead, the SIBC raises the rates, with typical government-speak of having “done everything possible” to avoid this. They did already avoid it, as they got rid of, and are getting rid of, the highest-cost bridge.

This toll increase is simply unacceptable. The rate should be going down, not up, because the maintenance headache bridge has been eliminated.


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