Congressman Calls On Business Community, Public to Support Immediate Action on the Peace Bridge
BUFFALO, NY – Today Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) met with local business leaders at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership to ask for their support in the effort to push for immediate action leading to construction of a new Peace Bridge.
“The Western New York business community and our local economy can’t afford to sit back, wait and hope for the Bush Administration to have an epiphany on an agreement for Shared Border Management or the potential for a more supportive new federal administration still years away,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “We need a community effort that abandons further delays and embraces immediate action so we can proceed with land acquisition, final design and actual construction following issuance of the Record of Decision due early next year.”
The environmental review process currently underway includes the opportunity for the public to comment through public meetings to be scheduled in the coming months. The Congressman is encouraging business leaders and the public to support his efforts to move now on Peace Bridge construction.
In a detailed fact sheet shared with business leaders today, the Congressman justifies the need for and benefits of immediate action on Peace Bridge Construction including the following points:
· Economics of Minimizing Bridge Wait Time: Construction of a new bridge is expected to decrease the average wait time at the bridge from 59 minutes to 14 minutes. Given that approximately 340,000 metric tons of cargo crosses the Peace Bridge every week, this translates into a travel time savings of $1.14 billion annually.
· Capitalizing on Southern Ontario Growth: The greater Toronto region is the seventh largest metropolitan area in North American and second fastest growing, projected to increase to over 11.5 million people by the 2030s.
· Impact on Manufacturing: The Ford Stamping Plant in Hamburg, NY feeds components to the assembly plant in Canada. The unpredictability of border crossing waits negatively impacts the local plant’s ability to compete for new lines of work.
· Environmental Improvements to West Side: Allowing the current configuration to remain in place is a poor public policy decision from an air quality point of view since the negative environmental impact of idling traffic could be greatly reduced with a new bridge.
· Tourism: The Canadian Dollar is reaching historic highs in terms of its value compared to the US Dollar, making travel to the US a more desirable option for Canadians. While in 2006 across all points of entry into the US there was a 7.6% increase in Canadian visits, crossings at the Peace Bridge actually fell. This suggests congestion and unpredictability at the Peace Bridge turning Canadian visitors away from WNY.
· Restoring Front Park: Under the proposed traditional plaza plan, three acres of parkland would be restored to the Fredrick Law Olmsted designed Front Park. In addition to the restored park space, nearly 8 acres of new green space would be created.
· Revitalizing Niagara Street: Construction of a new bridge and plaza would bring an opportunity to breathe new life into the Niagara Street business corridor.
“Choosing to add another multi-year delay to this long-stalled project is not responsible or acceptable,” added Congressman Higgins. “Now is the time to join together and support efforts that put shovels in the ground and people to work on a new bridge right away.”
Attachments: Letter to Business Leaders
Peace Bridge Act Now Document