Port Huron is our nation’s third busiest land border gateway by value for imports and exports transported across the border by highways, railroads, and pipelines. And its land ports are our eighth leading gateway when compared with all U.S. freight gateways—land, air, and sea.
In 2003, merchandise trade passing through Port Huron ($62 billion) accounted for 11 percent of the value of U.S. total land trade. These freight shipments accounted for 9 percent of U.S. land exports and 12 percent of land imports. Port Huron is a major gateway for both exports and imports, with outbound shipments accounting for 36 percent and inbound shipments accounting for 64 percent of the value of freight handled by its land ports in 2003.
Trucking is the most heavily used mode of transportation for freight passing through Port Huron, accounting for 57 percent of the value ($36 billion) of land trade in 2003. However, since 1999 truck’s share of land trade crossing through Port Huron has declined from 61 percent, due in part to increases in rail shipments. Between 1999 and 2003, rail freight increased 23 percent by value. Rail accounted for 37 percent of the port’s transborder land trade in 2003. By weight, rail accounted for the largest share of the land import tonnage for Port Huron in 2003 (see insert table).
Port Huron is an international gateway that serves every state. About 65 percent of the value of truck freight passing through Port Huron originates or terminates outside of Michigan. Over two-thirds (67 percent) of truck imports and 63 percent of truck exports passing through Port Huron are to and from other states. The top three states served by Port Huron’s land transportation facilities are Michigan, Illinois, and California, accounting for 58 percent of the merchandise trade transported through Port Huron.
The Blue Water Bridge crossings at Port Huron consist of two spans connecting the United States to Canada. One is a recently constructed bridge that opened in 1997 with traffic going outbound (into Canada). The other span, with traffic heading into the United States, originally opened in 1938 and was reopened after renovations in 1999.1
The inbound bridge handled over 928 thousand incoming truck crossings in 2003, up more than 52 percent from about 609 thousand crossings in 1994 (figure 1). Since 1999, rail containers entering the United States through Port Huron increased by 36 percent and truck containers rose by 22 percent.
1 Source: Michigan Department of Transportation web site, available at http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-9618_11070-22062-,00.html, as of Sept. 14, 2004.