The first was a symposium we partnered on with Continental 1, the trade corridor proposed to run all the way from Toronto to Miami (utilizing the expanding 219). It was a full day of dialogue on the importance of trade corridors to not only the Buffalo Niagara region, but to the U.S. economy. National and regional speakers from along the Continental 1 route offered their insights into the future of infrastructure funding for projects such as Continental 1 and the Peace Bridge, the strength and opportunity of the Buffalo Niagara CanAm port and trends in logistics that will make our region's intermodal capabilities that much more important.
It was a good, uplifting session that raised the awareness of the Continental 1 project, which has regularly been featured on the annual Buffalo Niagara Regional Agenda. Unfortunately, funding for a supplemental environmental impact study for the 219 project in New York's Southern Tier was lost in last year's state budget cuts - the funding, about $6.5MM, is essential to the continuation of the project. Given the importance of the trade corridor, the Partnership continues to advocate for restoration of the funding - in addition to the commencement of the Peace Bridge Expansion Project.
Following the Continental 1 session, a handful of Partnership members sat down with Janet Kavinoky, who is the transportation guru for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Janet shared her insight into SAFETEA-LU extensions and the hopes for a comprehensive surface transportation bill being passed next year. Of course, a week before the elections, it's difficult to say what the make-up of Congress will be, but from her work in the trenches she didn't think we'd see anything until at best September, 2011. It is likely that Congress will pass another extension of SAFETEA-LU before the year ends - and that some in Washington are calling for only a two-week extension to force action on a larger program.
The Partnership will be engaged in the advocacy for the comprehensive transportation bill, and for Buffalo Niagara's share of the funding - including that for the Peace Bridge Expansion Project and Continental 1.