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Extra inspection booths coming to bridge

by Candice Miller on April 2, 2012

Six booths to be added, plaza expansion plans delayed

By JULIANNE MATTERA | Times Herald

http://www.thetimesherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012303300005

Long-awaited passenger inspection booths will soon be added to the Michigan side of the Blue Water Bridge.

Construction of the six inspection booths on the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron is expected to begin in April. With the project slated to wrap up before July 4, officials said the newly installed booths will help ease congestion and create more capacity until the expanded plaza is built.

Plans to expand the bridge plaza in Port Huron have been delayed and scaled back because of budget issues. The earliest construction could begin is 2015 if funding is secured.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller said an estimated 30% increase in capacity would be a “huge help in expediting traffic flow across the bridge.”

Miller, R-Harrison Township, had called on U.S. Customs and Border Protection to add booths last year after Stan Korosec, vice president of operations for Blue Water Bridge Canada, complained to a congressional panel about traffic backups.

“It is just extremely good news for those traveling over the bridge,” Miller said.

The $1.5 million project is being funded jointly by the Michigan Department of Transportation, Blue Water Bridge Canada and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said Janet Foran, MDOT spokeswoman.

MDOT has a contract with Dan’s Excavating of Shelby Township for the project. If work on the project runs past July 4, the company will be assessed a $5,000 per day fine.

Korosec said the project will cause some delays during construction. He said it would be hard to predict exactly what those will look like, but he didn’t expect them to be “major delays.”

Drivers also can check the Blue Water Bridge Canada’s website and Twitter account for updates on any delays on the bridge, Korosec said.

Still, he said the end result’s “long-term gain” would be worth “some short-term pain” for traffic flowing into the United States.

On busy days, about 600 cars an hour can be processed at the plaza, Korosec said. Once the booths are in place, he estimated that number would increase by 200.

“It’s a significant increase in capacity,” Korosec said.

Three “stacked” booths will be constructed in lanes 10, 11 and 12 during the first phase of the project, beginning April 9, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. While the lanes are closed during construction, drivers bound for the United States are expected to experience delays.

The stacked booths should be complete by Memorial Day weekend.

Construction of three staggered booths in lane 13 will begin in late May. The lane will be closed during construction of the booths. Work on this phase should be completed by the end of June.

Cars going to the staggered booths will wait in the same lane until pulling to the first available booth of the three. There may be intermittent single-lane closures during off-peak times — Monday through Thursday — for paving throughout the project.

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