Port Huron was the nation's third busiest land border gateway by value for imports and exports transported across the border by highways, railroads, and pipelines in 2008. Its land ports were the ninth leading gateway when compared with all U.S. land, air, and sea freight gateways.
In 2008, merchandise trade passing through Port Huron ($81 billion) accounted for 10 percent of the value of U.S. total land trade. These freight shipments accounted for about 10 percent of U.S. land exports and 10 percent of land imports. Port Huron was a major gateway for both exports and imports, with outbound shipments accounting for 43 percent of the value of freight handled by its land ports in 2008 and inbound shipments accounting for 57 percent (table 1).
Trucking was the most heavily used mode of transportation for freight passing through Port Huron, accounting for 55 percent of the value ($44 billion) of land trade in 2008. However, since 2000, trucking's share of land trade crossing through Port Huron has stayed relatively flat, averaging between 52 and 57 percent, in part because of increases in pipeline shipments. From 2000 to 2008, pipeline freight more than quadrupled by value. Pipelines accounted for 13 percent of the gateway's transborder land trade in 2008, up from 4 percent in 2000 (table 2). By weight, rail accounted for the largest share of the land imports tonnage for Port Huron in 2008 (see insert table).
Port Huron is an international gateway that serves almost every state. About 78 percent of the value of truck freight passing through Port Huron originated or terminated outside Michigan. About two-thirds (66 percent) of truck imports and 86 percent of truck exports passing through Port Huron were to and from other states. The top three states served by Port Huron's land transportation facilities were Michigan, Illinois, and Texas, accounting for 49 percent of the merchandise trade transported through Port Huron (table 3).
The Blue Water Bridge crossings at Port Huron consist of two spans connecting the United States and Canada. One, opened in 1997, carries traffic outbound to Canada. The other span, with traffic heading into the United States, originally opened in 1938 and was reopened after renovations in 2000.
The inbound bridge handled more than 732,000 incoming truck crossings in 2008, down about 5 percent from about 770,000 crossings in 2007 (figure 1). The flow of truck containers entering the United States through Port Huron rose to a high of 1.7 million in 2006 before declining dramatically. In 2008, truck container crossings were far below the number in 2000. From 2007 to 2008, rail container crossings fell about 9 percent (table 4).