MASSENA The Seaway International Bridge had 20 percent less truck traffic in April than a year ago, reflecting what a bridge official described as an economic slowdown.
Meanwhile, the number of passenger vehicles crossing the bridge between Massena and Cornwall, Ontario, shot up by 8.7 percent more than last year, according to statistics released this week.
In April, 180,120 passenger vehicles crossed, compared with 165,716 in April 2013. Commercial vehicle traffic declined sharply, with 4,514 crossings in April compared with 5,675 during the same month last year.
We know that some of our trucking is down due to reduced activity of the local manufacturers, said Wade Dorland, interim general manager of the Seaway International Bridge Corp.
We have also had very little timber this past month, Mr. Dorland said. Also, some of our contractors that were going from Montreal to the Massena area have slowed down as well.
The truck issues seem to be related to the local economy, Mr. Dorland said.
April marked the first month that the Alcoa East plant in Massena curtailed its production. It was unclear whether the decrease in commercial traffic on the bridge pertained to trucks entering or leaving the United States, Mr. Dorland said.
The last six months weve seen a significant decrease, he said.
Passenger car traffic has increased with the opening of the new low-level bridge connecting Cornwall Island to the city of Cornwall, Mr. Dorland said. The new bridge is having a very positive impact on the cars, he said. Were very pleased with those crossings. The new bridge opened in January, and since then the transit times have been better.
Meanwhile, the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge saw a reverse pattern.
Truck traffic increased 5 percent, but passenger vehicle crossings dropped 10 percent in March, the latest month for which statistics are available. The number of truck passings increased from 5,762 in March 2013 to 6,061, while the number of passenger vehicles declined from 58,487 to 52,288.
Frederick S. Morrill, deputy executive director of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, attributed the boost in truck traffic to an increase in business in the OBPAs Heavy Industrial Park.
ACCOs growth has also helped our truck traffic, he said. We are aggressively seeking truck traffic. We also have the advantage of offering fertilizer now at the Port of Ogdensburg. The deal between DeFelsko Corp. and A.N. Deringer Inc. has also helped our numbers.
The authority is organizing a marketing campaign this year to increase Canadian truck traffic. Mr. Morrill cited short waiting times as the biggest incentive for truckers to use the bridge.
Finally, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority reported increases in both passenger and commercial traffic in April, compared with a year ago.
Passenger vehicle crossings increased from 122,851 in April 2013 to 126,148, a 2 percent increase. Truck traffic jumped from 32,487 to 34,261, a 5 percent increase.