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  #1  
Old August 13th, 2008, 10:01 PM
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Default Best border to cross from Ontario to Detroit airport

Hi

Can I please have opinions on which border bridge is the easiest, fastest and less waiting time to cross.

We are coming from London area in Ontario on Mon. Aug 25th to make a 6 pm flight out of Detroit.

We can either go to Sarnia and cross at the Blue Water Bridge or go to Detroit and cross at the Ambassador Bridge.

What are your opinions about the waits at each bridge and also the roads to get to them and the roads after them to the Detroit Airport.

Thanks
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  #2  
Old August 13th, 2008, 11:04 PM
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Lots of construction at Ambassador Bridge and I75 Freeways. Usually, Blue Water Bridge is less crowded in my opinion and drive from London is faster.
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Old August 14th, 2008, 01:00 AM
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My friends that travel I-94 south of Port Huron tell me there is still alot of construction being done. Which way is better will probably depend on the time of day you're crossing the border and passing thru these construction areas.
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  #4  
Old August 14th, 2008, 01:42 AM
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We always cross at Sarnia. I hate the Windsor city street drive and I hate the Detroit side from the bridge. The 402 goes right to the bridge and then you get onto 69/94 on the other side and away you go. The 401 down by Tilbury is still getting a major facelift and there is work on the 402 as well, so there's no avoiding construction any which way you go.

There is also an electronic sign on the 401 westbound between Veterans Memorial and Highbury Ave that sometimes lists the border wait times for both Sarnia and Windsor, but it's really hit and miss when they show that. You can also check http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/general/times/menu-e.html before you leave home and it will have pretty recent wait times. Just remember, if Sarnia says a 30 minute wait and Windsor says no delay, you are probably still quicker to go Sarnia because you can take more than 30 minutes just getting to the Ambassador Bridge from the end of the 401.
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Old August 14th, 2008, 07:59 AM
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I live in Sarnia where the Bluewater Bridge is located. Allow yourself lots of time to cross. Every day the bridge has been lined with cars all the way over. This is not unusual and it is not just for a holiday. You can search Bluewater Bridge wait times and always add at least 30 minutes to what they say is there. We used to go over likely twice a week and now it's only when necessary.
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Old August 14th, 2008, 08:40 AM
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If you do cross at Sarnia on the bluewater bridge the problem you may face is the construction that is being done on I94 and like the one poster stated earlier it depends on the time you are traveling. My daughter lives off I 94 and there are time because of construction that the road is a mess and a slow travel. Crossing in Sarnia takes less time, just try to travel at a time where you can avoid rush hour and give your self a little extra time because of the construction on I 94
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Old August 14th, 2008, 08:42 AM
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Wow,

Thanks for all the input, I appreciate it, but must admit, I'm even more confused and undecided now.

I have been sort of tracking the border crossing wait times at both and Blue Water seems to always have a 20 to 30 minute delay at Blue Water when crossing INTO the US, but as was posted, it's all highway TO the bridge and is a shorter route to begin with. The Ambassador has not yet had more than 10 minutes delay posted when I have checked but is a bit longer of a drive and not as easy with going through Windsor.

Another question. Dan J, I see you are from the London area also, I am just south of Woodstock. Can you give me an estimate on how long it takes from the 401 say around the Wellington/Exeter exits to get to the Blue Water Bridge. I don't know how much time to allow for the drive. We have a flight out of Detroit at 6:10 pm. I was thinking of leaving around noon, that allows for 3 hours driving and checking in 3 hours ahead, or if there is more of a wait and construction we will have a bit of extra time. Our flight is Detroit, Philly then London England.

How much time should we allow for the drive to Blue Water?

If anyone else has an idea of how long it would take from London to Detroit airport via Ambassador bridge please let me know that too.

Thanks, I appreciate the help.
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Last edited by doodlefan; August 14th, 2008 at 09:01 AM.
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Old August 14th, 2008, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doodlefan View Post
Hi

Can I please have opinions on which border bridge is the easiest, fastest and less waiting time to cross.

We are coming from London area in Ontario on Mon. Aug 25th to make a 6 pm flight out of Detroit.

We can either go to Sarnia and cross at the Blue Water Bridge or go to Detroit and cross at the Ambassador Bridge.

What are your opinions about the waits at each bridge and also the roads to get to them and the roads after them to the Detroit Airport.

Thanks
We've been crossing this border for years using the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit - never thought about any other way except maybe the tunnel. Then, when we were travelling to Florida with friends one time, they INSISTED that we cross at Sarnia. Now my way of thinking was "why in the world would you go that far out of your way?" I couldn't believe how much faster it was and easier access to the interstates. There was no driving through undesirable neighbourhoods. No worrying about where you stopped for gas. All in all, it took no longer than the AB without the hassle. For us, it's the only way to go. When we fly to Europe next month it's out of DTW and we'll be crossing at Sarnia again. BTW - we just returned from a trip to IND and the construction on I-94 didn't affect our trip at all.

We live a half hour east of you and it took about 2 1/2 hours to the bridge in Sarnia. It would have been longer if DH was driving, I tend to drive about 115km/hr on 401/402. But watch out for the OPP on 402 - they are out there. We were lucky to have minimal traffic and only a half hour wait at the bridge.

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  #9  
Old August 14th, 2008, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by twoputt.plusone View Post
But watch out for the OPP on 402 - they are out there. We were lucky to have minimal traffic and only a half hour wait at the bridge.
The OPP....boosting provincial revenues since who knows when....

My advice from the west end of the border crossings....the greater the importance of being on "the other side" at a particular time, the greater the amount of "cushion" you want to put into your planning times.

In addition, DTW has restaurants and shopping available for you to take up time. You may even want to pick up a 60 day WorldClub membership for use on both ends of your flight. Or just sit and watch the water feature....or walk through the tunnel and experience flashbacks to the 60's.

Ask yourself....which would upset you more? Spending extra time waiting before your flight or missing your flight because of a customs/immigration issue at the border? Factor those annoyance levels and plan out your trip -- it's your risk avoidance/management that comes into play.
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Old August 14th, 2008, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twoputt.plusone View Post
We've been crossing this border for years using the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit - never thought about any other way except maybe the tunnel. Then, when we were travelling to Florida with friends one time, they INSISTED that we cross at Sarnia. Now my way of thinking was "why in the world would you go that far out of your way?" I couldn't believe how much faster it was and easier access to the interstates. There was no driving through undesirable neighbourhoods. No worrying about where you stopped for gas. All in all, it took no longer than the AB without the hassle. For us, it's the only way to go. When we fly to Europe next month it's out of DTW and we'll be crossing at Sarnia again. BTW - we just returned from a trip to IND and the construction on I-94 didn't affect our trip at all.

We live a half hour east of you and it took about 2 1/2 hours to the bridge in Sarnia. It would have been longer if DH was driving, I tend to drive about 115km/hr on 401/402. But watch out for the OPP on 402 - they are out there. We were lucky to have minimal traffic and only a half hour wait at the bridge.

2P.P1
Thanks for the info.

How long did it take you to get from the bridge to the Detroit Airport? I think we will go the Blue Water Bridge. They seem to have some more delays but it's a more direct route and once you cross it's I-94 all the way. I will print out maps for alternate routes if we run into too much traffic or construction on I-94.

Thanks again
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Old August 14th, 2008, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyerTalker View Post
The OPP....boosting provincial revenues since who knows when....

My advice from the west end of the border crossings....the greater the importance of being on "the other side" at a particular time, the greater the amount of "cushion" you want to put into your planning times.

In addition, DTW has restaurants and shopping available for you to take up time. You may even want to pick up a 60 day WorldClub membership for use on both ends of your flight. Or just sit and watch the water feature....or walk through the tunnel and experience flashbacks to the 60's.

Ask yourself....which would upset you more? Spending extra time waiting before your flight or missing your flight because of a customs/immigration issue at the border? Factor those annoyance levels and plan out your trip -- it's your risk avoidance/management that comes into play.
Flyertalker

Thanks for your input, I'm not sure how many flashbacks to the 60's I'll have since I was just born in 1969 , but we did have a connection at DTW in May on our return from our Alaska cruise and it's a great airport. The only problem is I'm flying "puddle jumper" from DTW to Philly, so I will be confined to the Smith Terminal which isn't nearly as big or as exciting as the others. lol

But as you said, it is important to be on the US side of the border so I must allow enough time to get there with plenty of cushion. I'd rather be sitting there waiting then rushing and almost late, that's why I made sure I have a 3 hour layover in Philly too and I'm flying 5 days early for my cruise. I think we'll make it

Thanks again
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Old August 14th, 2008, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by doodlefan View Post
Thanks for the info.

How long did it take you to get from the bridge to the Detroit Airport? I think we will go the Blue Water Bridge. They seem to have some more delays but it's a more direct route and once you cross it's I-94 all the way. I will print out maps for alternate routes if we run into too much traffic or construction on I-94.

Thanks again
This will be the first time we've used DTW, normally we fly out of BUF. Our border crossings into Michigan were for driving trips south to Florida, not for flights. Our cruise isn't until the end of next month so I'm not certain of the timing from Pt Huron to DTW, at least not yet. Maybe someone else can tell you how long that would take. I could only give you my best guess and that's not what you're looking for.

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Old August 14th, 2008, 01:30 PM
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It's an hour from London to Sarnia and an hour from Port Huron to DTW. It's the Sarnia to Port Huron time that can be anybody's guess LOL Whenever I have driven to DTW, I've given myself 6 hours. You are going across right when the Democratic convention is starting. Although it is in Denver, you know how the US doesn't need much of an excuse to clamp down on security, so that might affect the border crossings as well. Also, when approaching Sarnia on the 402, if there are trucks lined up in the right lane, go to the left and drive by them. If there are cars lined up, that's the line for the bridge.
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Old August 14th, 2008, 02:37 PM
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As a seasoned border crosser and also from London, Ontario I would take the bluewater bridge (Sarnia) always over the Ambassador bridge. The 10kms or so of driving before the Windsor crossing is really really slow, and they will nail you for speeding, even 10km/h over.

The drive from London to the Bluewater bridge is about 50-60 minutes at about 110-115km/h. You are good to go about 120km/h, but any faster and youll get a ticket. Make sure you give yourself a lot of extra time, cause if someone farts on the blue water or ambassador bridge, they close it down! Make sure you have a route mapped from one to the other if the need arises!!!

The longest I have ever waited was at the blue water bridge at 5am in the morning on a Friday about a year ago when I was heading to Cincinnati. Was about 1 hour and only about 20 cars ahead of me! I guess the US guards decided to take thier time with every car. Approx 5-10min per car!!

Now if you do take the Bluewater bridge, make sure you are NOT going to be going through Detroit between (45 minutes from Bluewater bridge) 7am-9am and 3pm-6pm as thier is lots of traffic (no worse than TO).

DTW is an OK airport in a sketchy area, but the airport property itself appears well kept. If you are flying out of the McNamara terminal, you will be impressed, but the smith terminal is ghetto. Reminds me of MIA which is the worst airport in North America if you ask me! Park on the BIG BLUE DECK onsite at the airport. As cheap as offsite, but no need to shuttle (thier are shuttles to the BIG BLUE DECK if you do need them). Its $8 a day.

Feel free to ask any more questions,

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Old August 15th, 2008, 10:50 AM
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Default New terminal due to open mid-September.

[quote=
DTW is an OK airport in a sketchy area, but the airport property itself appears well kept. If you are flying out of the McNamara terminal, you will be impressed, but the smith terminal is ghetto. Reminds me of MIA which is the worst airport in North America if you ask me! Park on the BIG BLUE DECK onsite at the airport. As cheap as offsite, but no need to shuttle (thier are shuttles to the BIG BLUE DECK if you do need them). Its $8 a day.[/quote]

The new airport replacing Smith Terminal is due to open mid-September. I read in the Detroit News that it's on schedule and should open by mid-September. I just flew in from the east on USAirways (frequent flyer miles) which is based at the Smith Terminal. I'm flying to Illinois on Southwest on 9/18 so hope the new terminal IS OPEN on time. I'm anxious to see it.

McNamara Terminal is really nice so hope this one is, too.

What airlines are you flying and what are the dates? NWA, Delta, Continental, & Air France (+ a few other overseas) fly out of McNamara. Most of the others fly out of Smith.
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Old August 15th, 2008, 11:13 AM
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We got lucky and are flying NW out of McNamara to Barcelona.

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Old August 15th, 2008, 02:45 PM
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As a seasoned border crosser and also from London, Ontario I would take the bluewater bridge (Sarnia) always over the Ambassador bridge. The 10kms or so of driving before the Windsor crossing is really really slow, and they will nail you for speeding, even 10km/h over.

The drive from London to the Bluewater bridge is about 50-60 minutes at about 110-115km/h. You are good to go about 120km/h, but any faster and youll get a ticket. Make sure you give yourself a lot of extra time, cause if someone farts on the blue water or ambassador bridge, they close it down! Make sure you have a route mapped from one to the other if the need arises!!!

The longest I have ever waited was at the blue water bridge at 5am in the morning on a Friday about a year ago when I was heading to Cincinnati. Was about 1 hour and only about 20 cars ahead of me! I guess the US guards decided to take thier time with every car. Approx 5-10min per car!!

Now if you do take the Bluewater bridge, make sure you are NOT going to be going through Detroit between (45 minutes from Bluewater bridge) 7am-9am and 3pm-6pm as thier is lots of traffic (no worse than TO).

DTW is an OK airport in a sketchy area, but the airport property itself appears well kept. If you are flying out of the McNamara terminal, you will be impressed, but the smith terminal is ghetto. Reminds me of MIA which is the worst airport in North America if you ask me! Park on the BIG BLUE DECK onsite at the airport. As cheap as offsite, but no need to shuttle (thier are shuttles to the BIG BLUE DECK if you do need them). Its $8 a day.

Feel free to ask any more questions,

Nick
I cross the border at the Ambassador Bridge 2-4 times per week. DTW is not even remotely in a sketchy area. I drive that stretch all the time. The area downtown is sketchy (although much renewal has taken place) not the airport area. McNamara terminal is beautiful and efficient and the terminal to replace Smith (which was horrendous) is nearly complete.

They will not nail you for doing 10 km over on Hwy 3/Huron Line. Trucks (and I) regularly travel that stretch of road after the end of the 401 at about 75 km/hr without issue. If you're traveling with the flow of traffic you'll be fine.

For the person who said the stretch between the end of the 401 and the Ambassador Bridge takes 30 minutes, that information is false. My house is another 30 kms east of the end of the 401 just off of Hwy 3 and it is 30 mins from my door to the bridge. Unless there is a horrendous accident on Huron Church Road the long backups have been over for several years now. You do encounter stop lights which of course you don't on the 402 at Sarnia but again, that stretch will take no more than 15 mins in normal traffic patterns.

The massive construction at Ambassador on the US side is a bit of a challenge but it's clearly marked and traffic on the bridge is WAY down right now because of it. It's actually been quite pleasant crossing in recent months. I personally hate crossing at Bluewater (we travel to Sarnia regularly for basketball tournaments using the US side as our route) due to the small number of gates and back ups but that's just my preference.
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  #18  
Old August 16th, 2008, 03:00 AM
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DanJ DanJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodml View Post
For the person who said the stretch between the end of the 401 and the Ambassador Bridge takes 30 minutes, that information is false.
I said it can take 30 minutes, not it will take 30 minutes. From London and points east, it simply makes more sense to cross at Sarnia, unless there is a significant difference in time to cross at Sarnia than Windsor.

If they actually do build either or both of the new bridges in Windsor and do the highway, then things might be different. I do agree the airport isn't in a sketchy area, and I actually thought when I went for a drive west (north?) on Merriman while waiting for my inlaws flight to arrive that it was a nice area.
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  #19  
Old August 16th, 2008, 07:57 PM
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Thank you everyone for your replies.

We still dont know which way to go. Sarnia is the easiest, but all this week there have been delays of an hour and a half around the time we need to cross (around 1 pm). I've been tracking it for days and there always seems to be a wait.

I will continue to watch it this upcoming week and if it continues to have these delays every day we will go to Ambassador.

Either way, I will have a map for each and it will depend on the morning we want to cross. I will check and if there is a wait at Sarnia, we'll go to Ambassador, if there is no wait listed, we'll head to Sarnia.

Thanks again
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