BUFFALO, N.Y. May 21, 2000 -A plan to twin the Peace Bridge, linking Ft. Erie, Ont. and Buffalo, N.Y., has been stalled by a U.S. court decision ordering a full environmental assessment before any further work can be done. While few would argue that the bridge, built in 1936, needs to be expanded, a huge debate has arisen over what the bridge should look like.
The City of Buffalo and some organizations are supporting a complete replacement of the current bridge with a new concrete span, while Ft. Erie, the Peace Bridge Authority and other interests on the Canadian side argue that the existing span should be twinned.
The twinning was to start this summer, with completion set for 2003, but U.S. opposition to the cost, the aesthetic appearance of steel bridges, the increase in truck traffic and other issues have prompted local interests to challenge the plan in court. Some also worry that the proposed U.S. Customs plaza, which is only an eighth the size of the Canadian customs plaza, will not be able to handle the higher traffic.
The bridge is the number-two Canadian border crossing, carrying 1.3 million commercial trucks a year – a figure projected to rise by nearly half in the next ten years.
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