The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge is getting a major overhaul to alleviate the hours-long congestion frequently seen at the border crossing.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. General Services Administration will provide $50 million to increase the number of auto lanes from six to nine, and the number of truck lanes from four to six. There will also be a new lane for processing buses.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer says that lengthy wait times at the bridge, particularly during the busiest 50-70 days of the year, typically exceed one hour and have peaked at nearly three hours.
"The Lewiston-Queenstown Bridge is a critical artery to cross-border commerce and is the lifeblood of Western New York’s regional economy – but the U.S. plaza has needed a major upgrade for years,” said Schumer. “Improving and expanding the plaza will do three important things: it will improve safety, alleviate crushing wait times, and create jobs."
The project will create 1,200 local jobs, according to the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, including construction and related jobs. Senator Schumer adds that the improved bridge will increase commerce with Canada, which will "protect and sustain countless other jobs all over WNY."
John Percy, CEO of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation, said, “US-Canadian trade is vital to the economic prosperity of the Niagara region, and all of WNY. We know that Senator Schumer understands the importance of Canadian business, and we are thankful for his tireless efforts to secure this funding.”
In addition to more lanes, as part of the project, the plaza will get new booths, a new canopy and access tunnel, as well as an expanded outdoor secondary canopy and more parking. And the current administration and processing building will be removed and be replaced with a larger facility.
Senator Schumer called for the GSA and CBP to invest in expanding the plaza in April 2015. A few months later, in October, the GSA approved a critical first-step to move the project forward that would allow CBP to secure additional funding. The Senator continued to push CBP to make the expansion possible in the coming months, which led to a partnership between the GSA and CBP and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission that allowed the project to move forward.
Senator Schumer is set to make the official announcement at 1 p.m. at the bridge in Lewiston on Tuesday.
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