A new international freight transportation route dedicated to heavy trucks took a step closer to reality April 29 with the announcement that a bi-national business partnership will purchase the former Niagara River railway bridge between Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, and its counterpart in New York state.
“Looking ahead five years, we see the day when a dedicated three-lane roadway over the former railway bridge will expedite truck traffic and alleviate growing congestion at this key border crossing,” said William H Truesdale Jr, president of Whirlpool International Truck Bridge (USA) Inc. Along with a related Canadian company, WITB has agreed to purchase the bridge from the Canada Southern Railway Co (CASO) for $19.8 million Canadian. CASO is jointly owned by Canadian National Railway Co (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd (CPR).
WITB (USA) and Whirlpool International Truck Bridge (Canada) Inc are owned by the same six investors, with backgrounds in construction, transportation, customs, and immigration, as well as cross-border brokerage and government relations.
The Whirlpool Rapids Bridge north of the former CASO bridge is owned by the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission and is not involved in the sale. No commercial or corporate relationship exists between the two bridges or their owners.
“WITB was the only entity to formally express interest in buying the CASO bridge before truck border crossings became a high-profile issue in the post-September 11 environment,” said Truesdale. “Our plan for some time has been — subject to government and regulatory approvals — to develop a dedicated international toll bridge for the exclusive use of large commercial trucks.”
The proposed US $220-million redevelopment of the bridge and approaches is expected to take five years, including public and regulatory review and approval before the construction phase. The purchase is expected to close in 2003.