May 22, 2003

Governments contribute $325 million for improved border crossings

Queenstown, Ontario – Industry Minister and Minister responsible for Infrastructure Allan Rock, Transport Minister David Collenette, and Bart Maves, MPP for Niagara Falls and Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister of Transportation announced $325 million in funding for 14 projects under the Border Infrastructure Fund to improve border crossings in the Niagara and Sarnia regions. The projects cover a range of initiatives that will reduce border congestion and expand the capacity of the existing road infrastructure.

“Ontario’s border crossings and highways are vital for economic growth and prosperity, and we must ensure that goods, services and people move smoothly and safely through these borders,” said Mr. Maves.

“The funding will be used to improve some of the busiest highways and crossings in Ontario,” said Minister Collenette.

“Over the past decade, the Government of Canada’s $12 billion investment has leveraged a total of $30 billion. This includes targeted investments in areas like critical improvements to our border infrastructure,” stated Minister Rock.

The funding will be used in several projects:

At the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, $51 million will be invested, in partnership with the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, to build a new lane on Highway 405 and on the bridge, dedicated to commercial traffic drivers already registered in a program where their security details are filed with customs authorities on both sides of the border. These pre-clearance programs, such as the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program, allow commercial drivers who have their paperwork in order to spend less time in line at the border. By giving these trucks a dedicated lane to the U.S Customs, safety will be improved, congestion reduced, and the efficiency of the crossing will be improved.

In partnership with the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, $42 million will be invested in four projects at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, Canada’s third busiest crossing for passenger vehicles and trucks. At the bridge, there will be security and technology enhancements and upgrades to the commercial vehicle processing centre. Toll booths will be moved from the U.S. to Canada, freeing up space on the congested U.S. plaza in order to process truck traffic more efficiently. In addition, existing customs and immigration facilities will be relocated in order to free up space on the Canadian side of the border to improve traffic flow and reduce line-ups on the bridge.

Two projects, at a cost of $108 million will improve safety and reduce congestion on the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW). Starting this summer, the QEW will be widened to six lanes, from Mountain Road in Niagara Falls to west of Glendale Avenue in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The other project is the widening to six lanes of the QEW between Highway 406 and the Garden City Skyway Bridge through St Catharines.

$110 million will be invested in six projects to improve access to the Blue Water Bridge, in Point Edward, Ontario, Canada’s second busiest and fastest growing truck crossing.

Approximately 20 km of Highway 402 will be upgraded and rebuilt. Operational improvements such as new lighting and variable message signs will be installed on 402 near the bridge. Security improvements to better protect the bridge will be completed, in partnership with the Village of Point Edward. Highway 402 will be expanded to add a dedicated lane for commercial traffic drivers registered in pre-clearance programs. Highway 401 near London will be expanded to six lanes and improvements will be made to the 401/Wellington Road interchange. These projects will improve the efficiency of the Sarnia gateway, resulting in reduced congestion, reduced truck queues on Highway 402 and improved safety.

The Government of Canada’s investment will come from the $600 million Border Infrastructure Fund, established in Budget 2001. Minister Rock announced the parameters of this fund in August 2002. The Border Infrastructure Fund has been designed to support the initiatives in the Smart Border Action Plan by contributing to projects that reduce border congestion, improve the flow of goods and services and expand infrastructure capacity over the medium term.

The provincial share will come from the Ontario government’s five-year, $20 billion SuperBuild initiative. Since SuperBuild was established, more than $15 billion worth of capital investment is at work building highways and border crossings, hospitals, courthouses, classrooms, community centres, culture attractions, transit systems, water and sewage treatment plants and other public amenities across the province.

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