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Seaway commercial transit numbers drop from last April due to ‘local economy’

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MASSENA - The Seaway International Bridge Corporation saw 20 percent less commercial traffic in April compared to the same month last year due to less activity from the local economy.

While passenger vehicle traffic featured a large increase over last year, commercial truck totals dropped considerably on the international bridge connecting Massena and Cornwall, Ont.

The number of passenger vehicles that crossed over the bridge in April 2013 was 165,716, while this April there 180,120. For commercial vehicles, the number dropped from 5,675 to 4,514.

“We know that some of our trucking is down due to reduced activity of the local manufacturers. We have also had very little timber this past month,” Interim General Manager Wade Dorland said. “Also some of our contractors that were going from Montreal to the Massena area have slowed down as well. The truck issues seem to be related to the local economy.”

April marked the first month that the Alcoa East plant had curtailed its production, and sources familiar with the border crossing suggested that could be responsible for a large percentage of the decrease in truck traffic. Alcoa officials were unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Mr. Dorland noted it is unclear whether the traffic decrease has been primarily from vehicles heading northbound or southbound.

“We can’t tell. We’re not sure where the original destination is for these vehicles. When a vehicle goes north, it usually goes south as well so we aren’t sure whether the decrease is northbound or southbound. We just know that it is an overall decrease in the traffic in the area,” he said.

“The last six months we’ve seen a significant decrease. This is one of the steepest ones that we’ve had. It does seem like it has been progressing worse.”

While March’s commercial transit numbers (4,412) increased by over 100 in April, months leading up to that saw a general decline.

The Thousand Island Bridge Authority had an increase in both passenger vehicle and truck transits.

April’s 2013 total for cars was 122,851 while this year had 126,148 crossings. The truck figures went from 32,487 to 34,261.

The new low-level bridge connecting Cornwall Island to the city of Cornwall opened in January, and Mr. Dorland said that since then passenger vehicle numbers have increased.

“The cars are doing well. The new bridge is having a very positive impact on the cars. We’re very pleased with how those crossings are,” he said. “The new bridge opened in January and since then the transit times have been better.”

In Ogdensburg, car traffic across the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge has decreased while truck traffic has increased this year.

Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Frederick S. Morrill said car traffic is down from 58,487 to 52,288, or 10.6 percent, as of March of this year, while truck traffic increased from 5,762 to 6,061, or 5.2 percent.

Mr. Morrill credited increased industry in the OBPA’s Heavy Industrial Park for the rise in truck traffic.

“ACCO’s growth has also helped our truck traffic,” he said. “We are aggressively seeking truck traffic. We also have the advantage of offering fertilizer now at the Port of Ogdensburg. The deal between DeFelsko Corp. and A.N. Deringer Inc. has also helped our numbers.”

The Bridge and Port Authority is organizing a marketing campaign this year to further increase Canadian truck traffic. Mr. Morrill cited short wait times as the biggest incentive for truckers to use the bridge.

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Staff writers Amanda Purcell and Gordon Block contributed to this story.

MASSENA The past 12 months have seen a 20 percent decrease in commercial vehicle traffic at the Cornwall Island Bridge.
The following chart breaks down the initial increase in truck crossings and then the steady decline.

May 2013 Cars: 176,070 Trucks: 7,070
June 2013 Cars: 178,870 Trucks: 7,077
July 2013 Cars: 182,975 Trucks: 7,613
August 2013 Cars: 195,142 Trucks: 7,807
September 2013 Cars: 188,212 Trucks: 7,412
October 2013 Cars: 190,640 Trucks: 6,734
November 2013 Cars: 175,502 Trucks: 5,597
December 2013 Cars: 163,907 Trucks: 4,824
January 2014 Cars: 158,816 Trucks: 4,984
February 2014 Cars: 149,644 Trucks: 4,486
March 2014 Cars: 177,756 Trucks: 4,412
April 2014 Cars: 180,120 Trucks: 4,514
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