Constituent Services
Higgins Calls for GSA to Expedite Peace Bridge Construction
July 13, 2007

Washington, D.C.- Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) sent a letter to General Service Administrator (GSA) Lurita Doan  requesting the assistance of GSA in expediting the Peace Bridge project by negotiating a longer lease with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) for the new Peace Bridge Plaza.  

 

“This is an exciting opportunity for the General Service Administration to expedite the Peace Bridge Project at no new cost to the federal government,” said Higgins

 

The construction of the new bridge and plaza will be financed by bonds issued by the Public Bridge Authority (PBA). The bonds will be financed by PBA revenues from tolls collected from users and from rent from various tenants, including CBP, as a significant component of the Peace Bridge project is for new facilities for CPB.  As under the current arrangement, CBP will pay rent to GSA for the use of these facilities. By increasing the length of the standard 10 year lease, the PBA’s bonding capacity would increase and allow the project to proceed more quickly.

 

“This presents an opportunity for GSA to play a fundamental role in the revitalization of a vulnerable Buffalo neighborhood.  A mile and a half down Niagara Street from the Peace Bridge is the site of the new federal courthouse, on which GSA is currently clearing land for construction.  By taking this simple step to expedite the Peace Bridge project GSA will be the anchor for hundreds of millions of dollars of investment at both ends of Niagara Street, and attract millions more in private investment along the corridor in between,” wrote Higgins.

 

 

 

The full text of the letter is below.

 

 

 


Congress of the United States

House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515-3227

 

 

July 12, 2007

 

Lurita Doan

Administrator

General Services Administration

1800 F Street, NW

Franklin Court Building Suite 4100W

Washington, DC 20005

 

Re: GSA assistance with the construction of a new Peace Bridge in Buffalo, NY

 

Dear Administrator Doan:

 

I am writing to request the assistance of the General Service Administration (GSA) in taking creative action that will expedite a project of regional and national significance. 

 

The Peace Bridge, which connects Buffalo, New York and Ft. Erie, Ontario, is the second busiest passenger crossing between the U.S. and Canada.  It is beyond capacity and reducing travel times for passengers and freight is critical to the economy of Western New York.  Plans are underway to construct a new customs and toll plaza and a second bridge span, with the Federal Highway Administration expected to issue a record of decision on the project early next year. 

 

The construction of the new bridge and plaza will be financed by bonds issued by the Public Bridge Authority (PBA), which will be financed by PBA revenues from tolls collected from users and from rent from various tenants, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  A significant component of this project is the construction by the PBA of new facilities for CPB.  As under the current arrangement, CBP (through GSA) will pay rent for the use of these facilities. 

 

With that in mind, I respectfully request that GSA negotiate a lease for the CBP facilities that is longer in term than the standard GSA lease.  A longer lease would increase the PBA’s bonding capacity at no additional cost to the federal government and would allow the sorely-needed project to proceed more quickly. 

 

Let me add that this presents an opportunity for GSA to play a fundamental role in the revitalization of a vulnerable Buffalo neighborhood.  A mile and a half down Niagara Street from the Peace Bridge is the site of the new federal courthouse, on which GSA is currently clearing land for construction.  By taking this simple step to expedite the Peace Bridge project GSA will be the anchor for hundreds of millions of dollars of investment at both ends of Niagara Street, and attract millions more in private investment along the corridor in between.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  I look forward to working with you on this exciting proposal. 

 

                                                            Sincerely,

                                               

                                                            Brian Higgins

                                                            Member of Congress


 
 
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