Stop the presses. There has been more progress on the Peace Bridge. Years – no, decades – in coming, any news of movement on bridge improvements is welcome.
The latest development involves the federal government’s final approval of a Cuomo administration plan to dramatically reshape the manner in which vehicles get on and off the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, clearing the way for construction to begin in the fall.
The Federal Highway Administration approved the $35 million project last week. The undertaking involves new entrance and exit ramps, and a pedestrian bridge to the shoreline trail.
Getting any movement, no less construction going on the Peace Bridge, is nothing short of remarkable given the sluggish pace that has been set over the years.
Now design plans for the site are being finalized and are set to be completed when construction bids are put out in July. The state is expected to award the construction project Sept. 24. Work is expected to begin in October and be completed by the spring or summer of 2017.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo noted that the project will improve traffic flow and commerce between New York State and Canada and move commercial traffic out of a residential neighborhood, and restore Front Park. As he said, these are “…welcome and long-awaited developments for the people of Buffalo.”
Not everyone is pleased. There are those who doubt the plan will reduce traffic problems and are concerned about bridge congestion and impacts on local air quality. These seem difficult issues to resolve. One side is saying there are environmental issues and the other governmental side is insisting that there is no impact.
The debate won’t take the sparkle off this recent announcement. Cuomo, as pointed out in the article, could have a photo opportunity at the bridge in October just prior to election day in November. The governor will have a lot to smile about standing in front of this project, funded with $16 million in federal funding, $6.7 million from the State Thruway Authority and most of the rest from the state Department of Transportation.
It is great news of progress delivered by the governor who made this a priority. He won’t be the only one smiling.