Border crossings between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, were down more than a third of a percent in 2017 compared to a year earlier, according to figures released Tuesday by the Bridge and Tunnel Operators Association.
Traffic on the Ambassador Bridge was up by 1.85 percent, from 2,546,977 to 2,547,653 for trucks and 4,203,114 to 4,327,377 for passenger cars.
But a loss was felt at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, which experienced a 2.88 percent decrease in passenger car traffic from 4,311,179 down to 4,187,071. Truck traffic was up from 34,377 to 39,320. Overall traffic through the tunnel was down 3.73 percent. No figures were provided for bus traffic in 2017.
The association notes that the Detroit-Windsor tunnel was closed for construction for 10 days in October as well as from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. from Oct. 30 to Dec. 31.
The 86-year-old tunnel is in the final stretch of $21.6 million in renovations by the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Corp. Detroit-based American Roads operates the tunnel under a lease with the city of Detroit. Nightly closures are still expected through mid-June. Renovations have included masonry, electrical work and the replacement of the concrete ceiling.
The association also released total figures for border crossings between Ontario and Michigan and New York. Among the 10 bridges and one tunnel represented, overall car, truck and bus crossings increased by .47 percent, or by 158,500 vehicles, in 2017.
Construction on another bridge from Detroit to Windsor is expected to begin this year, according to officials planning the $2.1 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge. No completion date has been announced.
Overall since 2000, automobile traffic from Detroit to Windsor has dropped by 50 percent at the Ambassador Bridge and nearly 50 percent at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Truck traffic is down nearly 27 percent at the bridge and 78 percent at the tunnel.
The figures from 2000 were used to compare international border crossings to a pre 9/11 world, said Ron Rienas, president of the Bridge and Tunnel Operators Association.
“We tend to forget how much it changed,” said Rienas, noting the requirement for passports and an increase in security. “The whole border enforcement changed pretty dramatically.”
Rienas said the decrease in truck traffic could be in large part due to a shift in manufacturing to Mexico and southern states during the last 17 years.
“In 2000, Canada and the United States were each other’s number one trading partner,” Rienas said. “In 2017, that’s no longer the case.”