A small but needed step finally was taken with the Department of Homeland Security's preliminary approval of a plan to move American customs inspections to the Canadian side of the Peace Bridge. This boosts the chances for a more efficient crossing with less bridge plaza and more historic parkland on the Buffalo side of the river.
The approval changes a potential red light to flashing yellow, not yet green. It's a go-ahead for planning a plaza that has broad support here, but still needs formal agreement between the United States and Canada on shared border management.
But it does mean that environmental review work and siting negotiations can proceed, avoiding more potential delays in an already overlong process. And coupled with word that all $15 million in state transportation bond act funding for Niagara border crossings may be available for the Peace Bridge project, it means more alternatives -- including the northward plaza alignment favored by some groups -- may now be closer.
Actual selection of a preferred American bridge plaza is, rightly, part of a longer planning process. These steps enhance that process, but don't dictate a decision. There's still a lot of engineering and pricing work to be done. But in this process, every encouraging domino that falls is welcome.