Peace Bridge Plaza Plan Revealed

10:27 PM, Jun 11, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - Tuesday night, the state revealed its new plan for traffic coming off of the Peace Bridge onto the U.S. side.

"If they take this out of here and put it into our backyard, they didn't even consider us at all," said Tangia Delk.

So far, Delk, who lives on the west side, feels like her voice isn't being heard when it comes to finding a solution to the traffic troubles and potential health problems associated with the Peace Bridge.

Carlos Benitez is also frustrated.

"It's kind of still just puzzlement. No clarity," he says.

Both west side neighbors have been hoping for answers for a long time.

"We're looking at options to be able to keep interstate traffic on the interstate," says Maria Lehman.

Lehman is in charge of the new Peace Bridge Plaza project for the state.

Tuesday was the first time the public saw the state's specific plan on how to deal with traffic congestion and environmental concerns from the Peace Bridge Plaza on the U.S. side. The project is being called The New York Gateway Connections Improvement Project.

The point of Tuesday night's "scoping" meetings was to reveal the timeline and get the ball rolling.

The main goal of the joint project between the Federal Highway Administration and the New York State DOT is to reduce traffic on local streets from cars and trucks getting off and on the Peace Bridge.

It comes with an estimated $20-million to $22-million price tag.

"From an investment standpoint, it's long overdue, and I think it's really a good bang for the buck based on what we're seeing," said Lehman.

"Where does the money come from? Is it all state taxpayer funds or are there federal grants you can apply for?" asked Channel 2's Kelly Dudzik.

"No, this is actually federally and state funded. There's 15.8 (million dollars) left in the old federal earmark that we're using up, and then the remainder is coming from NY Works money that was in last year's state budget, the governor's budget," says Lehman.

One of the options is a direct access ramp from the plaza to the Northbound 190 getting traffic out of the park and off of Porter Avenue.

There is also the goal of moving trucks off of Baird Drive and sending them 1/4 mile away from the neighborhood.

"How would this plan benefit the families who live around the plaza and how would it benefit the environment?" asked Dudzik.

"Well, I think what it does is it eliminates the traffic signal, and it eliminates the cross traffic that you're getting. It's taking all of the plaza traffic off of Baird Drive and away from the neighborhood, so as soon as you're off the plaza, you're going to the thruway directly and that's going to make a big impact," said Lehman.

So how soon will that big impact be made? Traffic plans will be submitted for a series of environmental studies, then there will be a public hearing, and eventually, the state will sign on with a contractor once a design is chosen in late April.

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