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Higgins Asks CBP to Consider Smaller Peace Bridge Plaza

Apr 14, 2011
Press Release

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), a member of the House of Representatives Committees on Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to the U.S. Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) asking for expedited effort on the Peace Bridge construction project including consideration of a reduced footprint for the American plaza. 

“We have clarity on shared border management, commitment on funding and now we must look closely at how we can work together to put the final pieces in place to give this region the best opportunity for a better quality of life,” said Higgins.  “We should be ensuring this gateway is no larger than it absolutely needs to be to open up the door of economic opportunity for the entire cross-border region.”

Congressman Higgins’ district includes the Peace Bridge crossing between Western New York and Ontario and he is a staunch advocate for new Bridge construction. More on the Congressman’s efforts is available at: https://higgins.house.gov/peacebridge.

Below is the text from Congressman Higgins’ letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

Dear Commissioner Bersin,

I write you today regarding the Peace Bridge Expansion Project.  In order to expedite the ultimate and successful completion of the Project, I urge you to use all possible avenues to maximize your program of requirements within the smallest footprint possible, reducing, to the maximum extent possible, the involuntary taking of homes on Buffalo's West Side.  With your collaboration, we can have a project that meets our nation’s commitment to homeland security at a lower cost.

For the first time, we have achieved significant momentum on this project.

First, we have clarity.  With Secretary Napolitano’s announcement that the shared border management pre-clearance program as was previously proposed is “dead”, we know with certainty that the Plaza will be located in the City of Buffalo.  Now we can proceed with the environmental process knowing that there is a site certain for improvements to the Plaza.

Second, we have commitment.  President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget proposes an unprecedented $2.2 billion for Land Ports of Entry within the request of the Department of Transportation.  The Peace Bridge Expansion Project would rank high for funding in this request.  With this commitment, combined with potential funding from the Canadian government and the bonding authority of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, we have a financing package that is coming together.

But I think we can go farther in making this project better.  So third, I believe we can and should consolidate the current plaza plan into a reduced footprint that will meet the homeland security needs of your agency as well as decreasing the project’s cost and expediting its movement.  I’ve studied the issues relating to the construction of similar projects, and I believe we can make this project better by making it smaller.

I your earliest convenience, I again urge you to come to Buffalo so we can begin to plan to make this project better and so I can show you first-hand how the Peace Bridge Expansion Project would benefit Western New York, and solidify your commitment to the project’s expeditious movement.

Sincerely,


BRIAN HIGGINS
Member of Congress