Monday, April 28, 2014


Recent headlines in our local paper give hope that we've turned the corner, from hyper homeland security fear-based planning, towards more common sense positive thinking.  The first sign was the front-page announcement in the 4-1-14 Times Herald [April Fool’s Day no less], “Line for plaza money gets longer.”   It finally dawns on local and state government that a great big Blue Water Bridge Plaza is very unlikely, and less needed than ever before, and the money for it [promised by the Feds] has dried up.  A half billion dollar project had been forecast.

                            Camera tower at Naco, Arizona

                                                      Tower at St Clair, MI, installed at north end of their riverfront Palmer Park--Photo by Joe Crowley

The little money left, post the War on Terror and the Great Recession, is probably to be shifted to Detroit’s border crossing, and some was spent on hi-tech Boeing border camera towers---re-positioned from the Mexican border where they didn't work, to ours where they might. Traffic estimates that pre-dated the year 2000 never materialized, nor did any terrorist threats along our Great Lakes borders.

Gone are the military stationed at our inspection booths.  Gone are the armed guards surrounding plastic handcuffed family members prostrate on the ground, because their names popped up on an inspector’s computer.  Gone is the shiny surveillance balloon {famously “mooned” by the Canadians}.  Gone are Plaza drawings of barracks for guards, and a double duty phalanx of out-going inspection booths, with artistic sculpture towers to make it all look pretty.

here is a breath of fresh air across the Blue Water area this spring.  A subsequent headline in our paper, 4-5-14, reads, “More Customs officers coming to city.”   As many commentators suggested in the midst of the hey-day of CBP-MDOT mega plans, what the Blue Water Bridge Plaza has always needed is more personnel to better do their job, not a giant re-build of the plaza structure.  It was built new less than 20 years ago.

The Canadians helped, in the past few years, by giving us a new set of booths to add new capacity to the inspection area.  Now the Feds have finally wised up, chastened by fiscal reality, and are sending us more well-trained people to help facilitate our border crossings.  Our frontier with Canada is not meant to be a fortress, but for commerce and friendship.

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

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