Despite being on Trump 'infrastructure list,' no new Peace Bridge in works
The Buffalo News By Robert J. McCarthy McCarthy Published Sat, Jan 28, 2017
Talk of a new Peace Bridge was revived this week when McClatchy Newspapers reported a $700 million Peace Bridge project was on a list of 50 major infrastructure projects that a Washington consulting firm compiled and that the Trump transition team shared with the National Governors Association.
One problem: The Peace Bridge Authority is not building a new bridge. While it might have appreciated the offer a few years ago, it responds today with a polite “thanks, but no thanks.”
“It appears the document is relying on very old information,” said Ron Rienas, general manager of the Peace Bridge Authority. “That information would have been accurate in mid-2011 when the Peace Bridge Authority was still seeking the necessary environmental approvals and funding commitments.”
But after 12 years of study, he noted, the idea was dropped back in 2011.
“There is presently no engineering, permitting, or funding in process,” Rienas said.
Problem two: The infrastructure list of 50 projects may be fake. Politico quoted a former transition team member as calling the document “fake.”
McClatchy initially reported that the White House said the documents were not official. Later on Wednesday, McClatchy said the document had been verified as real.
Fake or not, Rienas made it clear that the Peace Bridge is now concentrating on its $100 million deck replacement project and not on a new crossing.
But he also noted that future projects such as enhancing the Buffalo plaza will prove costly and may require federal funds.
“It is not an appropriate gateway into the U.S. and we would like to reconfigure and modernize it,” Rienas said. “The original $700 million project back in 2011 anticipated the Customs plaza being the funding responsibility of the federal government and it should be included in any current federal infrastructure program.”