Blue Water Bridge unveils new tolling software

Crossing the Blue Water Bridge just got easier.

The Michigan Department of Transportation and Canadian Federal Bridge Corporation Limited unveiled a new bridge tolling software that allows commercial and passenger vehicle traffic to pay tolls using one vehicle tag, said Bridge Director Amy Winn.

Bridge authorities celebrated the new software with a ribbon cutting at the toll booths Wednesday.

This is a change from the old software, which required one card for each side of the bridge, and was a physical card that needed to be swiped or placed in proximity of the tolling machine.

The new software is more convenient for commuters, who don't have to keep track of two cards, and will cut down on the time commuters spend in tolling lanes, Winn said.

"Now there's no more cards to lose or you have to replace. Now, it's a 6C RFID tag in the windshield and that's the end of it," Winn said.

While it will speed up the process for tolling, Winn said she couldn't say that it will alleviate frequent traffic backups at the border, as commuters still need to clear customs on both sides.

The new software was rolled out on the U.S. side of the bridge on Aug. 20, while the Canadian side saw the changes Sept. 15.

Commuters also now have the ability to open an online account through a new web portal to check their balances, review transactions, make one-time payments or set up automatic payments, request new or replacement tags, cancel tags and generate statements. To register, visit bluewaterbridge.us/login.

The software was also rolled out at the international crossing at Sault Ste. Marie, which is owned by the International Bridge Administration, on Aug. 10. Winn said account holders can use the same tags at both locations, and the software has the potential to spread to some other land crossings that have the same contracting authority.

The project cost a total of about $9 million, which was shared from the operating budgets of the three bridge operators. Sharing the software system, rather than each operator updating their own system, will be a collective savings for the operators between $6.5 and $7 million over the next ten years, Federal Bridge Corporation Limited spokesperson Rémi Francoeur.

Winn said the savings will which likely prevented the bridges from passing on the cost to commuters in the form of higher tolls, Winn said.

"For anybody who crosses the bridge it is a savings because we have more revenue to allocate in other areas," Winn said.

Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or lfitzgeral@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: Blue Water Bridge unveils new tolling software