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New bridge tolls will be a barrier

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Will tourists pay $9.00 to come across the border. Will border residents feel comfortable paying $9.00 to cross the border?

That is a question one must wonder when you look at the new proposed bridge tolls. Historically, the border area has attracted day trippers from Kabetogema, Orr, Bemidji, Ely who wanted to come to that foreign country. That trip often came as an extension of a trip to enjoy summer in Northern Minnesota. It was part of the mystique of being so close to Canada.

And those day trippers also spent time in the Falls. That too will be discouraged.

And a visiting couple who stay in Canada and choose to go to movie in the Falls will quickly discover that while they can see the movie $6.50 each, the cost of getting there and back is now $9.00.

With a one way toll of $9.00 (covering a round trip), it may discourage those trips. Even though previously they may have paid $5.50 for the same return trip, that too was often considered a barrier.

Most people have trouble keeping track of the change in the pocket. Trying to keep track of the remaining number of trips on a debit card is equally daunting. And arriving at the toll booth and discovering the card is empty of trips will be a real set back. It is interesting that while the booth can collect $9.00 in cash for the crossing, they can’t collect $15.00 for the “Debit Card”.

Eliminating the sale of “Debit Cards” at the toll booth will force area residents to dig into their pockets for $9.00 when they discover their toll cards have exhausted the trips and they can’t purchase new cards from the booth.

This creates a barrier between easy movement of people back and forth between International Falls and Fort Frances.

While both communities are working hard to attract additional tourists and businesses to the area, the method that thses tolls are being implemented may discourage those efforts and discourage residents from using services on both sides of the border.

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