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$1.8M grant backs effort to speed truck traffic over Blue Water Bridge

PORT HURON — An effort to speed the movement of trucks carrying goods across the Blue Water Bridge is getting a major boost from $1.8 million in federal funds.

In a news release Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Transportation said the grant from the U.S. Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation program would go toward its international smart freight corridor project.

The project will provide better, predictable arrival and processing times for goods heading west over the bridge, according to the state, which will minimize wait times and congestion. The effort will include new technology targeting the flow of data between shipping companies, vehicles, border agencies, and infrastructure operators along the corridor.

“Currently, trucks carrying freight across the border can experience lengthy delays at peak times. This project will decrease pollution from idling vehicles and decrease supply chain costs,” Michele Mueller, MDOT’s senior project manager for connected and automated vehicles, said in a statement. “In 2020, $71.5 billion in goods passed over the Blue Water Bridge, so the potential benefits to the environment, along with a reduction of transportation costs, are tremendous.”

Once complete, MDOT said the smart freight corridor system will be able to support the pre-clearance of freight shipments and minimize queuing and backups.

The corridor will start at the international border on the Blue Water Bridge, extending west on Interstates 94 and 69 through the port of entry at Pine Grove Avenue in Port Huron.

The SMART program offers discretionary grant funds through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, backed by both U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.

In a statement Thursday, Peters said, “As one of our nation’s busiest border crossings between the U.S. and Canada, it’s essential that the Blue Water Bridge is able to facilitate smooth trade and travel to support Michigan as a major hub for international commerce.

“I’m proud to have helped enact the bipartisan infrastructure law that made this funding possible and will help to improve efficiency and strengthen our economy, while prioritizing the safe transport of goods across the Blue Water Bridge.”