COLLINS LANDING — Toll rates at the Thousand Islands International Bridge are going up.
Effective Jan. 1, passenger — or two-axle — vehicles will be charged $2.75, up 10 percent from $2.50, putting the rate on par with the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge.
The commercial rate for trucks and buses will be $6.50, up 8 percent from $6, for the first two axles. Each additional two axles will cost $1.50, up from $1.25.
Trip cards for 16 crossings will increase from $15 to $20 and for 72 crossings from $30 to $32.
Robert G. Horr III, executive director of the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, said the rate increases will offset rising maintenance costs and pay for several coming projects, such as the redecking of the U.S. and Canadian bridges and installation of an E-ZPass system at toll booths.
The authority last increased toll rates in March 2007 after holding the rate steady for 23 years.
It was a 25 percent hike for passenger cars at that time, Mr. Horr said, and the common feedback was that the TIBA should increase its rates incrementally instead of hitting travelers with a large increase.
The bridge authority board now reviews its rates every five years.
Gary S. DeYoung, executive director of the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, said he does not foresee that a 25-cent toll increase for passenger vehicles will hurt the region’s tourism.
“I can’t imagine it having any impact,” Mr. DeYoung said.
Bridge traffic went up 5.1 percent, or 112,446 vehicles, in the 2007-08 fiscal year, following the last toll hike.
While a formal strategy and timeline for the E-ZPass project have not been worked out yet, Mr. Horr said, he will meet this month with representatives of the Interagency Group — an association of 24 toll agencies in 14 states that operates the E-ZPass program — to work out a deal to get the group’s fees reduced.
To join the E-ZPass program as a full member, the bridge authority would have to pay a $275,000 one-time initiation fee and a $75,000 annual membership fee. The authority also would have to bear the installation, maintenance and processing costs.
A recent traffic study at the TI bridge found that 31 percent of all vehicles that drove through toll booths were equipped with some form of electronic pass, with E-ZPasses making up 98 percent of those.
Annually, more than 2 million vehicles cross the international bridge connecting Collins Landing to Ivy Lea, Ontario.