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Schumer, Local Officials Praise Shared Border Agreement

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Canadian and US officials Tuesday praised a shared border agreement that should help move along the Peace Bridge expansion project.

It was nearly ten years in the planning. But both countries have agreed to shift all Peace Bridge inspections to Fort Erie. And that means that the roar of trucks heard here soon will be quieted. And, hundreds of Buffalo's West Side homes will not be torn down. Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello gave credit to officials and community leaders who were often at odds over the plan.

"They were really on the front lines of making this happen," said Masiello. "Without this kind of unity, without this kind of consensus building, we would not be standing here today."

US Senator Charles Schumer was on hand to explain details of the long-negotiated agreement. He says the Canadians were easier to bring to the table. But he says the agreement benefits both countries and removes the biggest obstacle to getting a new bridge built.

"We're going to have some details now to work out. But this was the logjam. This was the piece of the puzzle that had to be put in place before we could do anything else," said Schumer.

Schumer is pushing to have the new plan worked into the current environmental impact study to help avoid further delays. Steps to move all related agencies to the Canadian side have already begun. It's estimated both countries lose about $12 billion a year from border traffic delays. Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop says it's about friends helping one another.

"If Canada and the United States can't work out a system that would allow the free flow of people and goods across their border, it's hard to imagine which countries in the world could do that."

Officials say, if successful once implemented, the agreement could be a model for crossings all along the three thousand mile border.