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Great Lakes Article:

Get your act on the road
The St. Catharines Standard

Representatives of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment appear willing to compromise on the issue of the proposed mid-peninsula highway. But itís a compromise we cannot agree to.

Their desire to have a full environmental assessment rather than to simply support candidates who want to kill or postpone the project has some merit. But they are ignoring the fact that a needs assessment has already been done, at a cost of more than $100,000.

We canít understand why executive director Jason Thorne feels a full assessment - exploring whether the new highway is needed and examining the environmental impact - is even necessary.

Hereís our compromise: We agree with regional Chair Debbie Zimmerman, who says a scoped assessment - which would look only at the environmental impact - would be sufficient.

To do otherwise would require spending more money to repeat what has already been analysed in the previous needs assessment. It would also delay the construction of the new highway by up to three years.

This project, which is expected to cover 130 kilometres and cost

$1.3 billion, has been delayed long enough and Niagaraís current highways are becoming too crowded. The research has shown such options as a bridge across Lake Ontario and widening the QEW along the south shore of Lake Ontario are not viable.

The new route should cut through the land above the escarpment and loop around Hamilton. That would bring us the traffic relief this region needs and avoid paving over our tender-fruit lands.

We cannot let the process of finding a way to route the highway through the land north of Burlington hold up construction any longer.

By all means, find a way to address the concerns of Burlington residents. But donít let the politicking of a tiny vocal minority there cause any further delays to the project here.

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