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QEW alternative being discussed for Ontario

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Canada's government is taking another look at a new road across Ontario's Niagara Peninsula to ease the chronic congestion on the QEW.

Two decades ago, the Province of Ontario came close to building the Mid-Peninsula Corridor, a road right of way that would have run roughly along the QEW route from near Hamilton to the four border bridges. Then, it fell apart for a variety of reasons.

Now, Canada's parliamentary Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Committee is suggesting another look at the project, probably along a somewhat different route. That is supported by Member of Parliament Vance Badawey, a committee member. Badawey said it won't be easy or be simple.

"In government, we have to get beyond looking at two-to-four year strategies. We have to look at 10-, 30-, 50-year strategies, whether we're around or not," said Badawey. "Our job is to get the ball rolling fast enough so it doesn't stop - and this is an example of that, because it's going to take a while. It's not going to happen overnight. And I admit it's going to take a good maybe five to 10 years to get this thing done and completed and get trucks rolling on it and cars rolling on it."

Badawey says the United States and Canada need to work together on the proposal.

"We can perform globally with a lot more strength when we're together versus apart," he said, "and it's all relative, again, whether it's trade deals, whether it's lifting tariffs, whether it's infrastructure when it comes to transport or transportation, we have to work a lot closer together to form a lot more strength globally than we do apart."

Badawey has been talking with Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo), a strong supporter of smoothing transportation across the border. The congressman wants efforts to speed border crossing and has pushed for a series of measures to speed cars and trucks.

He points to the new Gordie Howe Bridge in Detroit, a $1 billion bridge paid for by the province of Ontario, including U.S. government facilities on the bridge. All of that is to be paid for by tolls from growing traffic.

"I think the position of them will obviously be important, but what I will be looking for is to maximize the economic and life quality benefits of Buffalo and Western New York," said Higgins. "So as these decisions evolve, to the extent that we can influence them, we want to encourage trade in passenger vehicles to move between the United States and Canada."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.