Welland Tribune-Mid-pen spinning wheels

Editorial - Monday, March 20, 2006 @ 09:00

So far there has been a lot of talk about a Mid-peninsula highway through Niagara to help relieve traffic congestion, but the drive to actually see the highway constructed has been spinning its wheels.

In an effort to gain some traction, Niagara Regional Coun. Debbie Zimmerman plans to introduce a motion that advocates partnerships with the private sector and neighbouring municipalities to see the proposed corridor become a reality.

The uniform voice that she sought from Niagara to present to the provincial government has proven to be elusive, thanks in part to the position of Niagara Falls council.

Two weeks ago that city reiterated its opposition to the plan in a letter to the region. Niagara Falls councilís position is that the province should expand Highway 406 and the QEW, a new highway may hurt sensitive environmental lands and most of Niagaraís traffic is tourist-related.

We think thatís nonsense.

It was back in 2001 the government of the day decided four additional lanes of capacity were needed to get traffic to Niagara and that the best way to do that would be to build a new highway running through the southern portion of the region.

Niagara Falls councilís position that tourism is an important consideration shouldnít be ignored, but it canít be overriding. The QEW is being expanded and the need to expand Highway 406 as a north-south link is also important.

But another highway will open the roads to bring more people here, not fewer. A Mid-peninsula link has the potential to more than just bring visitors to Niagara.

Expanded transportation routes could lead to more industry locating here, particularly down here in the southern tier.

The area around Cambridge and Woodstock along Highway 401 has been selected by automakers for their factories at least in part because of the proximity to the major transportation route.

It doesnít seem unreasonable to believe a Mid-peninsula highway has the potential of having the same effect in Niagara.

The need was identified years ago. Itís right that the project should be put back on track.

The actions of Niagara Falls city council are yet another reminder of how out of touch some in north Niagara are to the needs of south Niagara.

And contending a new highway may hurt sensitive environmental lands while also suggesting most of Niagaraís traffic is tourist-related is simply shortsighted.

The highway can be built in such a manner as to protect sensitive environmental land.

Truck traffic meanwhile, would benefit hugely from a Mid-peninsula highway.

We think Zimmerman has the potential to be a visionary here.

Pity we canít say the same for Niagara Falls council.


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