A trucks-only toll bridge across the Niagara River took a step closer to reality Monday with the announcement that a U.S./Canada business partnership will purchase an abandoned railway bridge between Ontario and New York State. The purchase is expected to close next year.
"Our plan for some time has been ... to develop a dedicated international toll bridge for the exclusive use of large commercial trucks," said William H. Truesdale Jr., president of Whirlpool International Truck Bridge Inc. Along with a related Canadian company, Whirlpool has agreed to purchase the bridge from the Canada Southern Railway Company for $12.6 million.
The proposed $220-million redevelopment of the bridge and approaches is expected to be complete by 2007. "Looking ahead five years," said Truesdale, "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." Tolls reportedly totaling about $35 would help recoup construction costs.
The steel-arch bridge was built for the Michigan Central Railway in the early 1920s and opened for traffic in 1925. Last year, freight trains were diverted from the bridge to aid downtown redevelopment.