U.S.-bound truck drivers are facing long delays crossing the Blue Water Bridge connecting Sarnia, Ont. to Port Huron, Mich., at a time when only one lane is available due to construction. And local police are taking a “zero-tolerance” approach to crack down on commercial vehicles that use residential streets to bypass the lineups.
Construction began July 5 and is scheduled to last until October 5.
Team driver Palwinder Singh was returning to Canada and saw trucks lined up for seven to eight kilometers on the other side of the highway, waiting to cross into the U.S. He said a friend who is a longhaul trucker told him that he waited for three hours in the queue on Monday.
Trucker Sameer Vij said he queued up for about an hour last week before he made it to the bridge and the U.S. border crossing. He said in summer there are always delays at the crossing, but this year construction activity has made things worse.
Some truckers are trying to avoid the delay by using residential streets in Sarnia and Point Edward, sparking concern from elected officials.
Drivers head into town to beat queue
“We don’t want trucks cutting through the village trying to circumvent the line as it can lead to dangerous situations and the OPP will ticket any truckers that attempt such maneuvering,” said Bev Hand, mayor of the Village of Point Edward.
Mike Bradley, mayor of Sarnia, said most of the trucking community respects the rules. He added that the Sarnia Police Service (SPS) and Ontario Provincial Police are ensuring trucks are not using side streets to bypass the lengthy lineups.
“Our side streets are not meant for that type of traffic, except in case of emergencies,” he said.
Police enforce zero-tolerance approach
“Sarnia Police continue to enforce a zero-tolerance approach to commercial motor vehicle traffic taking a shortcut through the city. This is an ongoing source of aggravation for residents and is being dealt with by enforcement action,” SPS said on Twitter.
Enforcement continues on truck traffic skipping the line at the Blue Water Bridge and police will continue to issue tickets to those who wish to travel through city streets and disrupt traffic, SPS said in another tweet.
Hand says she understands it is especially difficult for truckers who need to keep moving with deliveries. “We want to ensure that access to the ramps into Sarnia and Point Edward are not blocked by the backups as this causes safety issues,” she said.
Sending a message
Sarnia’s Bradley questioned why some or all the construction work on the bridge was not done during the pandemic when traffic numbers were low. “We are trying to get American traffic back into Canada and this does not help,” he said.
He hopes ticketing by the police will send a clear message to truckers to not leave the highway, and that enforcement will have an impact.
Meanwhile, trucker Singh was heading to California Tuesday and the long lineup was on his mind. He aims to reach the crossing around 9 or 10 p.m. “The lineup will hopefully be shorter, around half an hour or so,” Singh said.
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