Documenting and Determining Distributions, Trends, and Relations in Truck Lanes at International Border Crossing Facilities

Evaluation Techniques

  • Commercial freight vehicles equipped with GPS units that interact with electronic geo-fences.
  • GPS units send vehicle location and time of day when prompted by an event. These events include, but are not limited to:
    • Entering/Exiting a specified location which is monitored using geospatial technology called, GeoFences
    • Ignition on/off
    • Starting or stopping of the vehicle
    • Default portion of time (e.g., every 5 minutes)

Michigan-Ontario Truck Crossing Times: Analysis & Trends

Satellite image with bridge areas marked in colored lines.

Ambassador Bridge

As a general trend, truck crossings seemed to peak during the middle of the week (Tuesday - Thursday) and plummet during the weekend, especially on Sundays when crossings were nearly nonexistent. Additionally, truck traffic traveling into Canada was generally higher than truck traffic traveling into the United States.

The average truck crossing times at the Ambassador Bridge are variable and quite different depending on the direction of travel. The crossing time was always higher for truck traffic traveling into the United States. However, the trend during each week is generally the same at both bridges.

Out of a total of 1,085 truck crossings that occurred during June, 2014, a total of 19 trucks were selected for secondary inspection, or approximately 1.75%. The two days that included the largest secondary inspection times were June 7 and 28, which both fall on a Saturday. Saturdays are typically when truck traffic volumes decrease due to the weekend. This trend should be investigated further to verify if Saturdays tend to be the day with the highest secondary inspection delay times.

The average inspection times generally range between 1 minute and 1.5 minutes for each direction of travel. One direction of travel does not appear to be consistently higher than the other, and average inspection times are variable depending on the day of the week.

Blue Water Bridge

The average truck crossing times at the Blue Water Bridge are dependent on the direction of travel. Trucks crossing into the United States experienced a greater crossing time for most of the month, except on Tuesday and Wednesday of the fourth week. Unlike the Ambassador Bridge inspection times, similar trends are not apparent between each direction of travel for each separate week.

The average inspection times at the Blue Water Bridge generally range between 1 minute and 2 minutes. Generally, inspection times seem to be greater for truck traffic traveling into Canada. Additionally, there is a lack of inspection time similarity between the directions of travel, with each week experiencing different peak days.

Comparison Between Bridges

The number of truck crossings at the Ambassador Bridge is greater in volume than the crossings at the Blue Water Bridge. Generally, the Ambassador Bridge experienced four to five times more truck traffic traveling into Canada, and three to four times more truck traffic traveling into the United States. Although traffic values increase during the week and decrease over the weekend for both bridges in both directions, each direction?s peak volume days vary and do not reflect one another.

The average truck crossing times into Canada is generally less (for both the Ambassador and Blue Water bridge) than the crossing times into the United States. Although it only occurred during the second week, the crossing times into Canada are nearly identical for both bridges. Additionally, during the first two weeks of the month, truck traffic into the United States generally experienced similar trends in crossing times (i.e. same peak trends). However, trucks crossing the Ambassador Bridge experienced a longer crossing time.

The average inspection time is quite variable and does not indicate a distinctive trend across June, 2014. However, it clearly indicates that inspection times at the Blue Water Bridge are generally longer than the inspection times at the Ambassador Bridge. The Blue Water Bridge inspection times have a wide range, with times between 50 seconds and 2.5 minutes. However, the Ambassador Bridge generally experienced inspection times between 1 minute and 1.5 minutes.

Surface Street and Duty Free Assessments

Additional analysis concerning surface street and duty free time delays are being conducted by OSU. The surface street data is assessing the median time trucks experience based on day of the week and hour of day. For the Ambassador Bridge trucks experience the biggest delay near 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., in both directions of travel. As for trucks spending time in the Canadian Duty Free shop, a higher delay time was experienced in previous years (red, black, and green lines). However, these delays have been reduced in recent years (blue and purple lines).

Chart of 90th percentile duty-free times by month and year.