A $91 million expansion of the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge will be built by the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, according to a report in the The Buffalo News.
New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced the project, which will include adding six lanes of traffic entering the United States from Canada and a new 32,000-square-foot customs building replacing the current 5,000-square-foot customs building.
The commission estimates the project will create 200 construction jobs.
The 4 1/2-year project will be funded by the commission borrowing $70 million. Additional funding sources include the U.S. General Services Administration, which will pay $3.45 million a year for a 20-year lease for customs and border protection facilities at the bridge. GSA is also paying $8.7 million to pay for specialized equipment connected with the project.
The commission operates the three international bridges in Niagara County, New York.
Kenneth Bieger, commission general manager, says he doesn’t expect the debt to be paid by an increase in passenger car tolls. The commission is in the midst of a five-year truck toll increase that began in 2016, but which it says is unconnected to the project.
The 10 lanes of U.S.-bound traffic will increase to 16 lanes when the project is complete. The paper reports that, depending on traffic demand, five of the lanes will be used for autos and trucks and a sixth lane is reserved for buses.
Constructed in 1962, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge is now the fourth-busiest bridge on the U.S.-Canada border. The commission estimates that the bridge handles 2.6 million passenger vehicle and 800,000 truck crossings a year. The bridge, 1,600 feet in length and 370 feet above the Niagara River, connects U.S. Interstate 190 with Canadian Highway 405.