For whom the bridge tolls

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As the year rolls to an end, we start to wonder about what the new year will bring.

Strait Crossing gave Islanders an indication Monday of how 2014 will start – with Islanders paying more to leave the province.

Confederation Bridge toll rates will increase by 50 cents for all two-axle vehicles. The rates for larger vehicles, ie. transfer trucks, with more than two axles, will be increasing by 25 cents per additional axle.

The rates for motorcycles have also increased by 25 cents to $18.

But most of the bridge crossers will be paying $45.

This is a high toll to pay for any bridge.

It is unfair that Islanders have to pay the same toll as everyone else. It is also unfair that Island companies have to pay so much to transport their goods out of the province, putting them at a clear disadvantage to companies just on the other side of the bridge who don’t have to pay any bridge tolls to take their goods to market (except for a few dollars if they happen to travel on toll highways).

The toll on Confederation Bridge is certainly the highest bridge toll in Canada.

The Olivier-Charbonneau Bridge in Quebec has tolls that range between $6.80 and $7.40. The Golden Ears Bridge in Vancouver, B.C., charges $4.20 per car and $7.10 per truck or bus.

The only other bridge in the world that charges a higher toll than Strait Crossing (that we could find) is the Oresund Bridge connecting the Danish island of Zealand with Sweden which cost 43 euros or $62.85 Canadian.

Elsewhere, bridge tolls don’t even come close to what we’re paying.

The price of a journey on the world's third-longest, single-span suspension bridge, the Humber Bridge in the United Kingdom, is a toll of 2.70 pounds or C$5.44 (each way).

The 38.35-km Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, which is composed of two parallel bridges in southern Louisiana, U.S., charges just $3 to motorists.

The Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in China, the “longest bridge over water,” costs 50 yuan or $7.70 to cross.  

The agreement signed between SCDI and the government of Canada states that toll rates can be adjusted to inflation every Jan. 1. Over the 35-year period that Strait Crossing Bridge Ltd. gets to operate the bridge, they have the right to collect tolls, which they say “are essential to the financial stability of the bridge.”

However, charging less to Island residents and Island-owned companies should at least be considered. A flat rate of $20 or even $25 for Islanders would be a welcome gift and a wonderful gesture on the part of the bridge operators. Isn’t this the season of giving?

Seems Islanders have been giving a lot – about $44.50 every time they drove through the tollbooth in Borden-Carleton. And in the new year, we’ll be giving more.

Organizations: Strait Crossing Bridge

Geographic location: Iceland, Canada, Quebec Vancouver, B.C. Zealand Sweden United Kingdom Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Southern Louisiana U.S. China Borden-Carleton

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