A major construction project on the Peace Bridge starts Thursday, following settlement of an Albany feud with Canadian members of the bridge authority.
Lt. Governor Robert Duffy was in town Wednesday afternoon for a groundbreaking on the first phase of a project to widen the bridge ramp down to the Customs plaza. The steel work for the ramp is to be completed by November. Construction of the ramp will start in January and should be completed about a year from now.
The wider ramp will add up to three lanes for trucks so fewer cars will be blocked by trucks which need Customs clearance. More cars will be able to get by and use the quick-passage NEXUS lanes, all to speed up traffic and ease vehicle engine idling.
"This is the first phase to open up the throat-widening project which should speed up the process that you see," Duffy gestured to reporters. I think the greatest picture are all these trucks backed up, which slows down commerce [and] impacts neighborhoods because engines idle and it really impacts the air."
Thruway Authority Program Manager Maria Lehman says starting the work now speeds up the project. She says the contractor doing the work is putting in the foundations for steel work to begin in January, which will expedite the process.
"It's the same thing like the EZ Pass at [the] Williamsville [Thruway toll barrier]. If you can't get to EZ Pass, you can't use it. We want to do that with NEXUS here," Lehman said.
The steel work in the first phase is to run around $1-$1.5 million with the overall project costing $12 million.