Bridge sale may lead to dedicated truck route

by Canadian Shipper

A bi-national business partnership will purchase the former Niagara River railway bridge between Niagara Falls and its counterpart in New York State, and provide a potential new freight transportation route dedicated to heavy trucks.

“Looking ahead five years, we see the day when a dedicated three-lane roadway over the former railway bridge will expedite truck traffic and alleviate growing congestion at this key border crossing,” said William H. Truesdale Jr., President of Whirlpool International Truck Bridge (U.S.A.) Inc.

Along with a related Canadian company, WITB has agreed to purchase the bridge from the Canada Southern Railway Company (CASO) for CAD $19.8 million. CASO is jointly owned by Canadian National Railway Company and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.

Meanwhile, the sale has prompted the president of Transport 2000 Canada to release an open letter calling on Federal Transport Minister David Collenette to stop the demolition of the Canada Southern Railway Line in Southern Ontario.

“This important east-west corridor has the potential to free Canadian National’s overworked Toronto-Windsor/Sarnia line from congestion that delays passenger trains and to spare the Canadian Pacific line from Toronto-Windsor/Detroit freight congestion. The line is in the hands of the CPR and the CNR and the latter wants to proceed with demolition of the whole line. If CNR succeeds in this project, permanent harm will be done to Canada’s capacity to provide an alternative to border congestion by trucks at the frontiers this line serves at both ends and to our ability to provide fast, fluid rail service in Southwestern Ontario,” said Harry Gow.

At one time, he said, the CASO line carried heavy traffic from Detroit to Buffalo via Niagara Falls, and with the revival of freight traffic railways are now experiencing, it is only a matter of time before rail capacity problems become acute in this corridor.

“Our plan for some time has been – subject to government and regulatory approvals-to develop a dedicated international toll bridge for the exclusive use of large commercial trucks,” said Truesdale.

The proposed $USD 220-million redevelopment of the bridge and approaches is expected to take five years, including public and regulatory review and approval prior to the construction phase. The purchase is expected to close next year.

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