Friday, April 27, 2007

Homeland Security decision seen as costly

Buffalo Business First

Homeland Security has cornered the market on fiasco after another.....thank you President Bush...another "legacy" for this country to deal with..when you finally leave office.................andy

One day after federal officials killed a proposal to move all inspection booths on the Peace Bridge to the Canadian side of the international crossing, the local anger continues.
Department of Homeland Security, on Wednesday, withdrew a plan to build U.S.-bound inspection booths on the Fort Erie, Ont., plaza side of the bridge, citing logistical concerns and the inability to work out a formal agreement with the Canadian government. Placing the inspection booths in Fort Erie was a critical component to a shared-border management initiative being championed in both countries. It was also seens as a means to save development costs and potential legal battles.

The shared-border management pact was first announced in late 2004.
The plan had been endorsed by former Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas Ridge, who headed the Department of Homeland Security at the time. His successor, Michael Chertoff, rejected the plan.
"Secretary Chertoff's predecessor, Thomas Ridge, had committed to find a way to make shared border management work," said Andrew Rudnick, Buffalo Niagara Partnership president and CEO. "However, it has been clear that Mr. Chertoff's willingness to live up to that commitment has been sadly lacking. It seems that the DHS negotiators have looked for reasons not to fulfill their commitment instead of responding to the good faith efforts of the Canadian government and the hard work of Buffalo Niagara's representatives in the House and Senate."
Homeland Security's decision has been derided by a wide range of political leaders including Reps. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, and Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport along with Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, D-Buffalo and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
With the booths now shifting back to the U.S., the cost of the Peace Bridge project, which is already pegged at $334 million, may rise as much as $46 million. At least 68 residential and commercial properties on Buffalo's lower West Side may have to be acquired through costly eminent domain proceedings to accommodate the new booths.
The plan to move the booths back the Buffalo would also cause further design and engineering delays to a project that has already dragged on for more than one decade.
"Ceasing negotiations on shared border management could prove detrimental to the overall economic and cultural relationship between the U.S. and Canada," Rudnick said.

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