LEWISTON – Local officials and representatives from the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission on Wednesday celebrated what they described as a "major milestone" in the modernization of the plaza at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.
Officials touted the completion of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection auto and bus processing site, which is part of an upgrade to the Lewiston border facility. Officials said the project is designed to enhance the efficiency and functionality at one of the busiest points of entry along the U.S.-Canada border.
The second phase of the project started in Aug. 2018 and included the construction of a new 32,000-square-foot auto and bus processing facility, 6,000-square-foot secondary inspection canopy and dedicated bus lane.
Previously completed in 2016, the first phase saw the relocation of Interstate 190, major utilities, and the Duty- Free Shop at a cost of $21 million.
“The Lewiston-Queenston Land Port of Entry is not only critical to the economies of Western New York and Southern Ontario, but also to the greater U.S.-Canada relationship,” said Kenneth Bieger, NFBC CEO. “This new facility is a true testament to the hard work of the commission, our construction partners, and fellow colleagues at both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. General Services Administration.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, who supported the enhancement effort, said the new facility will help cut down on what he described as "egregious" wait times that made it difficult for visitors to cross the U.S.-Canadian border and hindered commerce and the international exchange of goods and travel. Post-COVID, the expansion will also help to increase tourism, bringing back countless jobs across Western New York, especially in Lewiston and Niagara Falls, Schumer said.
“The revitalization of the Lewiston-Queenston port of entry is a critical investment in the efficiency and security of the U.S.-Canadian border,” Schumer said. “Millions of vehicles from both sides cross this bridge annually, and by making travel easier and more efficient, we can ensure continued economic benefit from commuters, commercial movements, travel, and tourism for the Western New York community and beyond.”
As work continues on Phase II, the focus will be on the demolition of the previous 5,000-square-foot inspection facility to allow for the construction of new primary inspection lanes. In total, 15 new lanes will be installed, including nine dedicated auto lanes, five high-low lanes that can process both trucks and autos based on demand, and one lane dedicated solely to the processing of commercial trucks. The expected completion of the $91 million Phase II project will occur in the spring of 2023.
The Lewiston-Queenston Land Port of Entry is the fourth-busiest commercial land crossing between the United States and Canada. Constructed in 1962, the bridge is 370 feet above the Niagara River and connects United States Interstate 190 with Canadian Highway 405. The bridge and its five reversible lanes support more than 2.6 million passenger vehicles and roughly 800,000 commercial trucks annually.
The Lewiston LPOE modernization project on the U.S. side of the border will complement the Queenston Plaza renovation, which was completed in 2011. The Canadian facility upgrade included a new primary customs processing facility, elevated parking structure and toll complex.