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Peace Bridge to get new deck

A series of construction projects valued at $155 million will culminate in the re-decking of the Peace Bridge in four years’ time.

[Originally published April 17, 2014]

Ron Rienas, general manager of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, told Town council Monday the projects will be funded from cash on hand, toll revenue, rental income and a new bond issue.

He assured council that tolls will not increase.

. . . continued

The major work on the bridge itself will take place over three years during the winter months and will start in the fall of 2015.

One lane at a time will be re-decked starting in the winter and completed by May the following year “to try to limit the adverse impact of construction,” he said.

The projects are the result of a five-year capital plan the PBA board approved last October.

Extensive construction will take place to widen the approach off the bridge into the U.S. plaza — something that had long been recognized needed to be done.

Rienas explained the plaza expansion and other improvements were originally expected to be done in conjunction with the twinning project, but the prospect for a new bridge ended when the PBA pulled the plug on it in 2012.

The widening will allow the Nexus lane to be extended up onto the bridge and allow Nexus drivers to get past trucks held up at inspection.

“It’s a pretty important project for us,” he said.

The commercial warehouse in the U.S. plaza is “in dire need of being replaced,” and it will, he said.

“It will be a pretty dramatic improvement to get trucks in and out of the secondary yard quickly,” he said.

On the Canadian side, the PBA has already implemented a pilot project for pre-inspection of trucks in Canada before heading to the U.S.

Two temporary inspection stations for U.S. Customs have been set up in the Canadian plaza and 10 or 12 permanent booths are expected to be built, pending further agreement between the two national governments and the effectiveness of the pilot.

Currently, the booths are staffed Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The difference is dramatic when they close for business for the day and the queue in the plaza and QEW builds late in the day, Rienas said.

New York State is in the midst of a separate but related project to reconfigure roads and eliminate Baird Drive.

It is currently in the process of preparing an Environmental Impact Statement, he said.

 

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