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Seaway International Bridge Corp. looks to increase traffic, GM says

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MASSENA — The general manager of the Seaway International Bridge Corp. Ltd. said the corporation is looking for ways to increase crossings of the span that links Cornwall, Ontario, Akwesasne and Massena.

Hendrik H. Saaltink told members of the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors Thursday that all crossings combined had 37 million transits in 2011 and nearly 38 million in 2012.

The Thousands Islands Bridge at Collins Landing had approximately 1.8 million car transits and approximately 355,000 truck transits last year, an increase of slightly more than 2 percent from the previous year.

By comparison, he said, the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge had approximately 712,000 car transits and 71,000 truck transits, a 12 percent increase in cars and a 2 percent increase in trucks.

At the Seaway International Bridge, Mr. Saaltink said, there were 2,175,140 car transits and 79,063 truck transits. Those numbers were down from 2,296,704 car transits and 79,492 truck transits in 2011, he said, a decrease of about 5 percent for cars and a half percent for trucks.

Because funding for the Seaway International Bridge Corp. comes from tolls, Mr. Saaltink said, it needs to hold its own in number of transits.

The corporation is a joint venture between the Federal Bridge Corp. in Canada and the U.S. St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

“Obviously, we like to have business and revenues to keep our operation healthy,” he said, noting the corporation is exploring “what opportunities are out there” to increase its traffic.

Some retailers such as gas stations are assisting it, Mr. Saaltink said, by offering customers a booklet of 10 border crossing tickets at a discount to “encourage and recognize the international shopper.”

He said the corporation is redeeming approximately 40 books a day as retailers tell customers, “Here’s a book of tickets. Come back and see us anytime you need a service.”

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