Border Crossings Chaos
Don't you find it so interesting that each of the major border crossing files is chaotic. Co-incidentally, in each case, as I have BLOGGED before, one of the key issues in each area is the destruction of massive amounts of property in the US for new government bridges and/or plazas but NOT in Canada. I cannot understand why the Americans are so accommodating.
Interestingly as well, the Fort Erie area was to be the test of shared border management where both US and Canada Customs inspections were to take place in Canada. Strange that this initiative died don't you think because of problems that do not seem to be that hard to solve.
I wonder if Canada all of a sudden had second thoughts when the Bridge Company proposed the following in 2005 or at least Canada had to pretend it did. You see, Canada is desperate to control the border crossings into the US to preserve our economic well-being in trade. It needs to control the corridors and gateways in case the US tries to become too protectionist, say under Obama as a possible anti-NAFTA President:
- "Oct. 20--The owner of the Ambassador Bridge is proposing a huge expansion of U.S. Customs inspection facilities, plus new retail stores and other development that could create up to 3,000 jobs, change the face of southwest Detroit and speed traffic across the bridge and through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
"This is a big bet that Detroit's going to continue to be an international hub," said Dan Stamper, president of Ambassador Port and the Detroit International Bridge Co., which owns and operates the bridge. "Not everybody's rushing to Detroit to do things like this. This is good for the city, this is jobs...
The opportunity to accelerate these efforts is triggered by proposed purchase of about 25 acres of city-owned land that will allow Ambassador Port to move existing Customs inspections booths from both sides of the Detroit River into a huge 200-acre site he called the International Center."
At the exact same time, here is what was taking place:
- "In December 2004, the United States and Canada announced that the two governments had agreed to move forward with a land preclearance pilot project at the Buffalo, New York-Fort Erie, Ontario Peace Bridge and at one other border crossing site along the northern border, which had not yet been determined…
From 2005 to 2007, the United States and Canada were engaged in negotiations to implement land preclearance at the Buffalo-Fort Erie Peace Bridge ports of entry,"
Yet the Canadian Government in our area would balk at the Bridge Company's effort and would hypocritically act differently:
- "The Canadian government has threatened Detroit with legal action if it approves the Ambassador bridge's bid to take over the U.S. side of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel.
Mark Butler, spokesman for Transport Canada, said the single inspection facility proposed by the bridge has raised fears over border security…"
You see, if Canada could have shared border management on its side in Fort Erie then they could hardly oppose what the Bridge Company wanted to do in Detroit. It would have killed the DRIC project too and Canada could not allow that. Now you see how the Bureaucrats' hatred for the Bridge Company is ruining our economy and that of Buffalo!
We know all about the mess in Windsor ad nauseum. I don't follow Sarnia/Port Huron or Fort Erie/Buffalo all that closely but I do get snippets of news from there on occasion.
How can files get so messed up for so long. And some people want Governments to have responsibility over new crossings. Oh my.
Here is an interesting quote out of the Port Huron Times Herald as an example about their problems, especially with costs and cost over-runs:
- "The early 1990s also saw MDOT begin planning for a second span at the Blue Water International Bridge.
Groundbreaking for the 922-foot span took place in April 1995, two months before actual construction began on the Ontario side of the river.
Work also was under way on an 18-acre U.S. Customs plaza. Tons of rock were trucked in to elevate the plaza 24 feet above Pine Grove Avenue. The plaza ultimately cost $52 million, or about $12 million more than original estimates. Another $4 million was spent in 1999 on additional improvements.
The original bridge cost $4,069,150, according to historian Eric Poersch, or about $55 million in today's dollars. It was a bargain.
Construction costs for the new span exceeded $80 million - $41.7 million billed to the United States and $38.1 million to Canada. MDOT also spent $30.3 million on land, design, engineering, environmental testing, insurance, community relations and other ancillary costs. Throw in $56 million spent on the plaza, and the American costs approached $125 million. Canada, which invested $7.5 million to improve its plaza, spent at least $50 million.
Today, public comment is being sought on a draft environmental impact statement for a new U.S. inspection plaza and improvements to the expressway between the border and the junction of Interstates 69 and 94. The estimated cost is $433 million, a mind-boggling amount in a city where the value of all taxable property is about $800 million."
Here are excerpts from an interesting story out of Buffalo that was reported on 2 Buffalo TV stations but not in the main media outlet, the Buffalo News so far. I wonder why not.
Hmmmm, I wonder if the Windsor Star will report on this since they were so pleased to report on the Bridge Company's bad news down there recently. Of course, the General Manager of the Peace Bridge dismisses the story---he has to doesn't he. If it does have an impact, then the Bridge Company's proposal in that area looks much more attractive:
- "Roadblock in bridge expansion
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Another big hurdle for the Peace Bridge expansion project. Federal and state agencies are now siding with those who say the border crossing will create havoc in their neighborhood.
Some people who live near the Peace Bridge are in the fight of their lives to save homes in their neighborhood, as the Public Bridge Authority looks to expand its plaza.
Kathy Mecca lives near and said it will destroy the historic feel of the neighborhood. Some homes built as far back as 1865 would be demolished. Last week, some state and federal officials agreed with the opponents of the plan.
"This is a victory for the community," said Mecca.
In a letter to the Historic Preservation Office, Officials from the State DOT and the Federal Highway Administration propose a finding of adverse effect for the Expansion Project.
In another letter, an official from the State Parks Department agrees. They feel the bridge expansion project would have a negative effect on the historic resources in the neighborhood.
Mecca continues, "The ruling does not stop the project from going forward, but it does give everyone an opportunity to step back and take a deep breath, and be involved in an ongoing process of mitigation."
Public Bridge Authority General Manager Ron Reinas said the ruling comes as no surprise, and is not uncommon when demolition is involved. He said it's just part of the process, and won't impact the project timeline."
The saga for another crossing in the Buffalo area has been going on for around 20 years. And is still going on with birds being the latest issue for them with bridge design.
And the picture at the top...it's the proposal of the Ambassador Niagara Signature Bridge Group. However, why take the Bridge Company proposals seriously. They do not seek to displace hundreds of homes and businesses in Delray as the DRIC project would do nor would their proposal result in
- "absolute destruction [of Columbus Park-Prospect Hill ... one of the great neighborhoods and distinctive places of New York State] by a massive new bridge project which can go elsewhere with much less destructive, and perhaps even positive, impact.”