Federal Transport Minister Tony Valeri, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, Harinder Takhar, and Paul Koessler, Chair of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, signed two agreements today in Fort Erie, Ontario to invest a total of $323 million in 14 projects that will improve some of Canada’s busiest transportation corridors to the United States.
With the signing of these agreements, said Valeri, work will proceed quickly to improve border crossings in Niagara, at the Peace Bridge and the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, as well as at the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia.
This investment includes $154 million from the Government of Canada’s Border Infrastructure Fund, which is designed to reduce border congestion, coordinate improvements with adjacent American border facilities, enhance safety and security, and expand infrastructure at key border crossings.
"More and more these days, we see that what happens on one side of the border has a decisive impact on the other side – whether it has to do with security, the economy or personal travel. For that reason, Canadians and Americans tend to look at border issues through a similar lens – and nowhere is this more evident than in the movement of people and goods between our two countries," said Valeri.
At the Peace Bridge, linking Fort Erie to Buffalo, New York, tbe governments will invest $21 million – matched by $21 million from the bridge authority – on four projects. These include the redesign of the Canadian Plaza to expand the lane capacity, and the relocation of toll booths to allow for a 75 % increase in capacity at U.S. Customs. This will enable American officials to handle more trucks bound for the United States. In addition, they will enhance security and provide technology improvements, including Intelligent Transportation Systems and upgrades to the Commercial Vehicle Processing Centre, to improve service under the FAST and NEXUS programs.
A new Canadian border facility, including a new refugee centre, will be built for one of the busiest refugee points of entry into Canada.
In the St. Catharines area, more than $57 million will go into to widening a seven-kilometre stretch of the Queen Elizabeth Way, as well as a stretch between Glendale Avenue and Mountain Road, from four to six lanes.
Beyond St. Catharines, the federal and Ontario governments and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission will increase the capacity of the bridge between Queenston and Lewiston, New York. This will involve building a fifth lane on the bridge and both a truck queuing lane and a truck express lane on Highway 405 approaching the bridge. The federal government is investing $18 million in these projects.
Over in Sarnia, several projects will increase the capacity and efficiency of the corridor from Highway 401, through Highway 402, and across the Blue Water Bridge. This will include widening the five-kilometre stretch of Highway 401, between Wellington Road and Highway 402, from four to six lanes. Federal investment here amounts to $10.5 million. Construction will begin next year and will be finished by 2007.
Finally, the Blue Water Bridge will see a further $2 million in federal funding that will go towards realigning municipal roads that pass under the bridge, and improving the lighting at the border crossing to increase security. Construction will begin in 2006 and be completed by 2007.
Reaction the the announcement from the trucking community was positive.
The head of the Canadian Trucking Alliance and Ontario Trucking Association, David Bradley, said "Today’s announcement that funding for the projects is now in place is welcome news indeed," said David Bradley. "Canada-US trade depends on the efficient movement of trucks across our border. This announcement will certainly make it easier to do so."
"Today’s announcement shows that the federal and provincial governments can get things done when they work together. I want to congratulate both ministers and their cabinet colleagues for making today’s announcement happen," said Bradley.
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