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Niagara Bridge Agency Sells Debt to Improve Crossing

 

http://www.ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=35961The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, which runs three crossings over the natural wonder, is raising money through municipal bonds for the first time in two decades to improve the entry into New York from Canada.
The sale this week of $31 million in tax-free debt would help kickstart a project to modernize the U.S. customs area in Lewiston, New York, said Victor Montalbo, the commission’s manager of administration and finance. About 168,000 U.S.-bound cars, trucks, recreational vehicles and buses crossed the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge last month, according to the commission.

“You’ve got millions and millions of dollars of trade coming in there every day,” Montalbo said from Lewiston. “You want to make sure that it can get in. You want to make sure it’s an efficient crossing.”

The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, which runs three crossings over the natural wonder, is raising money through municipal bonds for the first time in two decades to improve the entry into New York from Canada.

The sale this week of $31 million in tax-free debt would help kickstart a project to modernize the U.S. customs area in Lewiston, New York, said Victor Montalbo, the commission’s manager of administration and finance. About 168,000 U.S.-bound cars, trucks, recreational vehicles and buses crossed the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge last month, according to the commission.

“You’ve got millions and millions of dollars of trade coming in there every day,” Montalbo said from Lewiston. “You want to make sure that it can get in. You want to make sure it’s an efficient crossing.”

The bridge has the longest wait time of the agency’s three, with truckers, tourists and outlet shoppers lining up for as long as two hours for customs clearance, Montalbo said. Combined, the crossings rank second after John F. Kennedy International Airport as the busiest port of entry between the U.S. and Canada, according to the agency. The premier of the province of Ontario and the governor of New York appoint members of the commission, which collected $17.8 million in tolls last year, according to bond documents. Toll revenue backs the bonds. The first part of the project, expected to be completed by 2016 at a cost of $35 million, will move a portion of Interstate 190 to create more space in the customs plaza, Montalbo said. Subsequent phases, which would include increasing inspection lanes to 16 from 10, would come after the commission receives a commitment from the U.S. government to help with funding, Montalbo said.

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