Ambassador Bridge starting all-electronic tolling Oct 1, completion of contentious Gateway project celebrated

September 21, 2012
By Peter Samuel

2012-09-20: Randy Spader, director of operations at the Ambassador Bridge says they're aiming to go all-electronic or cashless at the first of three tollpoints about October 1st. Trucks inbound to the US from Canada will be tolled by transponder or license plate cameras only, no more cash. In a separate development Michigan state and Ambassador Bridge company officials are celebrating the opening of new direct connector ramps between the Bridge and local I-75/ I-96 expressways Friday morning.

Bridge company president Dan Stamper in a statement today said the project's completion - by a contractor employed by the state under a judge's order - was cause for celebration and "deserves a champagne toast." He said the bridge company "joins with Lt Governor Calley and Michigan state officials in celebrating."

US federal highway administrator Victor Mendez is also expected to attend the ceremonial opening Friday morning, although there is no official announcement by Michigan DOT.

Along with the bridge redeck completed in the spring and improvements made by the bridge company, Stamper said, the new Ambassador Bridge "Gateway" would ensure the bridge remained the leading border crossing. The final $16m of work was contracted by the state six months ago, but under a judge's order the bridge company will pay the bills.

Court melodramas

The state since 2009 has alleged breach of contract by the bridge company in its part of the Gateway project and got summary judgment from a county court judge. Despite appeals and melodrama in which top bridge officials were briefly jailed for "contempt of court" the bridge company never managed to get their case heard in court.

It was resolved by the county judge ordering the project turned over to the state DOT to complete in March this year. The state's contractor and the bridge company apparently worked together harmoniously and the work was completed ahead of schedule.

New toll system, new multiprotocol reader

The bridge's new all-electronic toll system deploys 3M ID6204 multiprotocol readers on a new gantry over a long straight stretch of two lanes coming off the bridge before they fan out to border inspection lanes.

Spader told us he had a conference call with everyone involved this morning and they agreed on the end-of-month date. They plan to convert trucks outbound to AET toward the end of the year, and cars next year. (All tolling is on the US side.)

The bridge first to deploy the 3M 6204

3M says in a statement this week that the Ambassador Bridge is the first toll operator to deploy its new multiprotocol reader (the ID6204.)  John Freund, global sales manager for traffic systems (formerly head of Sirit) is quoted: "The ID6204 from 3M, is one of the first commercially deployed multi-protocol readers able to read every type of toll tags used in North America including E-ZPass tags, which are widely deployed in the Northeast."

Randy Spader says because they get trucks from all over America they want to be able to handle all kinds of toll transponders: "We have a long-term solution that can capture all tags with differnt technologies such as California Title 21 and E-ZPass at the same time."

Different protocols can be switched on and off with a simple cursor click.

Back in early 2009 the Ambassador Bridge installed Sirit ID5100 readers to replace Mark IV (now Kapsch) Badger readers that had been used in conjunction with PS111 the IAG protocol transponders since about 2002 in a closed bridge company electronic tolling. With the ID5100 readers they were the first toll facility in the country to use the ISO 18000 6C sticker tags.

Between 2002 and 2009 the bridge tried E-ZPass equipment without joining the E-ZPass Group (they weren't  interoperable in toll transactions.)

During a transition period through 2009 and 2010 Mark IV Badger and Sirit ID5100 readers worked side by side, the first reading the diminishing number of PS111 IAG transponders and the second the newly issued 6Cs.

The ID 5100 was marketed as multi-protocol but required some reprogramming to change protocols, Spader said, so it was only ever used by them as a single 6C protocol reader.

However Spader was sold on the Sirit readers by the 5100 which he found easier to manage for high read rates than the Mark IV equipment: "Our successful operations with (Sirit) readers over the past several years was another compelling factor in our upgrade (to the 6204.)"

The ID6204 reader developed by recently 3M-acquired Sirit division of FSTech reads all six tolling protocols used in North America:

- PS111, the E-ZPass IAG standard

- ISO 18000-6B the basis for TransCore's SeGo in general use in FL, TX, OK, NC, KS

- ASTMv6 the US Government promoted toll standard of a decade ago adopted only by 407ETR in Canada and the PrePass weigh stations for trucks

- ISO10374 or ATA protocols widely used in Texas and Florida before sticker tags

- Caltrans Title-21 legislated standard for California

- ISO 18000-6C used by the Ambassador Bridge, CO, GA, WA, UT

Other protocols, they say, can be supported through firmware updates.

on Gateway project

http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-9621_11008_45614---,00.html

on ID6204s

http://news.3m.com/press-release/company/ambassador-bridge-installs-3m-multi-protocol-reader-capture-all-north-american

The ID6204 readers are not yet listed on the 3M website, see:

http://www.sirit.com/Product_Spec_Sheets/V5_12_161_SRT_6204Reader.pdf

TOLLROADSnews 2012-09-20

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