U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is urging both sides in the dispute over running the Peace Bridge to "bury the hatchet." Schumer says cooperation could lead to lots of new jobs.
During a stop in Buffalo Schumer told reporters Tuesday he has not gotten involved in the details of the day-to-day operation of the Peace Bridge.
"My job was to get pre-clearance," said Schumer.
The deal announced in mid-March would allow screening of U.S. bound trucks in Fort Erie, reducing inspection time on the Buffalo side of the span and speeding traffic flow. Schumer points out it took Washington and Ottawa several years to agree to pre-clearance, which could start as early next year.
"At the edge of making progress, this dispute erupts," said Schumer.
The Brooklyn Democrat has already secured funding for improving the plaza in Buffalo and says his next goal is getting money for a new bridge.
"My plead to both sides is cooperate. If everyone's pointing fingers we'll have another ten years before we get a Peace Bridge," said Schumer.
Schumer says that could be very bad for the local economy because Toronto is booming. A brand new bridge with a larger inspection plaza in Fort Erie, he says, would create hundreds, maybe thousands of jobs in Western New York.
"The first thing I'm doing, since both sides seem at lager heads, is just urging them to get together and cooperate. Pointing fingers, saying one side's right, one side's wrong will slow down the process. I want to get the process moving," said Schumer.