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Blue Water Bridge officials in Canada wait for construction

by Candice Miller on April 7, 2011

By LIZ SHEPARD
Times Herald
http://www.thetimesherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011104070308
Stan Korosec, vice president of operations for Blue Water Bridge Canada, spoke to a congressional panel Tuesday about the need for something to be done.
 
Plans to expand the bridge plaza in Port Huron have been delayed and scaled back because of budget issues. The earliest construction could begin is 2015 if funding is secured.
 
The project, approved in 2009, included a 56-acre expansion at a cost of $586 million. A plan announced in December scaled back the project to a 16-acre expansion with a price tag of $300 million.
 
One point of frustration has been that, in the interim, Canadian officials have offered to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection with a solution to ease congestion, Korosec said.
 
He said the initial offer to assist in the financial cost of installing staggered booths was made in November, with just one conference call being made to discuss it.
 
“To ensure the project progresses, BWBC offered on Jan. 27, 2011, to supply up to seven new (primary inspection lane) booths, already completely fabricated and ready for delivery, to CBP as one part of BWBC’s contribution to the project,” Korosec said in a prepared statement to the panel.
 
“We are disappointed that this proposal has not been given the support it truly deserves, considering the significance of this border crossing to the economies of both nations and the associated challenges we continue to face.”
 
Korosec said exactly how much money Canadian officials would invest in the temporary solution isn’t known. But something needs to be done, he said.
 
The Blue Water Bridge is the second-busiest commercial truck crossing along the northern border and the third when including passenger traffic.
 
“Having delays for those goods coming into the U.S. doesn’t help the automakers … or anybody,” Korosec said.
 
He said they were hoping to have the additional staggered lanes in operation by the busy summer months. The bridge recorded 151 days when there were delays of one hour or more in 2007.
 
The discussion was brought up during meeting of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Marine Security.
 
Congresswoman Candice Miller, who chairs the subcommittee, said she was not aware of the offer to CBP by the Canadians to assist in the temporary fix.
 
“Now that I know that, I’m writing a letter to CPB saying, ‘What’s going on, what is the holdup, what is the problem?’” she said.
 
Miller said she is trying to use her position as chairwoman of the subcommittee to garner attention for the nation’s northern border, which often is forgotten by officials in favor of its southern border.
 
“We are going to address securing our borders, but I keep reminding everyone — we have a northern border,” she said.
 
CBP officials were not available for comment Wednesday

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