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Span on guard for thee

FORT ERIE, Ont. - The border closest to the country's economic engine and one of the busiest on the Canada-U.S. frontier is getting a much-needed tune up.But exactly when the Peace Bridge gets running...


GATEWAY: Buffalo's side of bridge.
GATEWAY: Buffalo's side of bridge.

FORT ERIE, Ont. – The border closest to the country’s economic engine and one of the busiest on the Canada-U.S. frontier is getting a much-needed tune up.

But exactly when the Peace Bridge gets running with expanded and updated facilities depends on what side of the Niagara River you happen to be on.

The Canada Customs’ operation at Fort Erie, Ont. will see 35 additional staff, another CanPass lane for frequent border-crossers, and more booths and an updated building. All of which should at least begin later this year.

“We’ve finalized the plans, and we’ve put in a site-plan approval to the town of Fort Erie, and we’re hoping to send bids out in the spring,” says Earle Rowe, a Canadian and one of two co-general managers of the Peace Bridge Authority (the other is an American).

He says the “revamping” includes streaming the truck exits from the commercial-vehicle centre, “and to do that we’re closing off a road that’s on the right-hand side of the plaza.”

The road in question, Walnut St., will in fact, be closed permanently. Construction on the Canadian side is pegged at US$14 million.

As for the plaza on the Buffalo, N.Y. side of the river, and the bridge itself, how and when the upgrading takes shape is still unknown.

The authority was forced back to the drawing board after a 1992 plan bogged down and was eventually scrapped after Buffalo’s citizens objected to many aspects of the changes.

The U.S. border and the bridge are part of a historical site near the heart of Buffalo. The authority in early March announced it had hired a consulting team.

“It could take three years alone to come up with the plan,” says Vincent Lamb, head of planning. n


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