Governor is not to blame for pace of bridge project

I am writing to clarify some points in the May 12 News story on the Peace Bridge. The attempt to connect the current pace of the work to Gov. Andrew Cuomo was not accurate.

I know firsthand the long history of dysfunction and paralysis that has plagued progress at the Peace Bridge. Bridge improvements have languished for decades while Buffalo loses wealth and population and the Canadian side has boomed. Four state administrations before ours and scores of federal officials have failed to get any significant progress to help Buffalo. Cuomo put a plan together that, for the first time, committed New York State budget funds to jump-start improvements to the Peace Bridge plaza, hired a full-time project manager and began acquisition of the necessary property.

There are different opinions on the Peace Bridge Authority, as there have been for years. New York’s appointee, Sam Hoyt, and Canada’s appointee, Anthony Annunziata, have publicly disagreed. Hoyt is a 20-year elected Buffalo representative who is fighting for Buffalo after years of neglect. So what story does The News put on its front page? It uses the Peace Bridge as an example of how Cuomo might handle international relations if he runs for president. It is as inaccurate a premise as has been put forth in Albany during the past two and half years.

First, it has nothing to do with the governor’s international relations. The Bridge Authority is about a bridge. That’s it. The authority is not a Canadian government agency, nor is it a state government entity. It is independent and run by private appointees of the respective governments.

But what is most troubling is that the article chose to focus on a hypothetical presidential race in 2016 rather than real issues facing the people of Western New York today.

The Peace Bridge is a 20-year story of failed potential and a metaphor for the decline that Buffalo and Western New York have experienced. The most important issue is: How do we stop gridlock and decline so that Buffalo’s tomorrow is far different than its yesterday?

No governor in my memory has committed more attention and resources to Buffalo and upstate New York than Cuomo has since taking office. As a lifelong resident of upstate and a former mayor, I have a pretty accurate perspective on this.

The governor is wholly committed to progress at the Peace Bridge for the people of Western New York, and I, along with a host of local elected and business leaders, am standing behind him.

Robert Duffy

Lieutenant Governor