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Ontario: Traffic projections for a federal bridge corporation

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Statistical model shows how traffic projections and bridge utilization impact toll revenues for two competing bridge operators. 

The challenge

The new Gordie Howe International Bridge (GHIB) coming in 2024 will connect Detroit and Windsor by linking I-75 and I-96, Michigan with Highway 401, Ontario. But will traffic projections on the GHIB impact a longstanding Ontario-Michigan bridge close by? A federal bridge corporation hired CPCS to simulate traffic projections for both bridges to shed light on the question. 

What we did  

The study had two objectives:

  • Analyze traffic flow on the existing Ontario-Michigan bridge
  • Predict traffic projections on the future GHIB

CPCS studied socioeconomic, commodity flow and travel volume data to come up with a Ontario-Michigan travel demand model. This model was then used as a basis to forecast traffic flow after the introduction of the GHIB. Complementing the statistical model is a geographic information system (GIS) representation of predicted route changes, travel times and traffic competition. 

CPCS also developed a travel cost model to measure shifts in bridge market shares and tolling revenues for the GHIB.   


“Data shows the new bridge will not significantly decrease car traffic on the old bridge,” says Vivek Sakhrani, lead forecasting expert at CPCS. “It will, however, reduce commercial traffic and likely cause a loss of overall revenue.”

“Our model also suggests that investing to shorten wait times at the border is the best way to offset this loss, rather than adjusting tolls.”