Tue January 10, 2012
Plans for larger Peace Bridge plaza scrapped
Plans for a new, larger inspection plaza at Peace Bridge in Buffalo have been scrapped. Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins says the Federal Highway Administration officially "rescinded" plans for construction of the plaza.
Higgins said the shift will allow the Peace Bridge Authority to take immediate action for a smaller plaza that will allow for 25 inspection lanes reducing the proposed area form 37-acres to 12-acres.
“Backups at the Peace Bridge continue to delay and discourage economic opportunity for Western New York and the entire nation,” said U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins. “It’s time to refocus on a plaza reconfiguration, streamlined crossing procedures, and long overdue bridge construction as we work to provide the additional capacity needed to support and grow the vast economic activity and over one million jobs that are directly linked to the Peace Bridge."
The FHWA formally terminated the decade long Peace Bridge Expansion Project environmental review process. The Peace Bridge Authority said "overall costs to escalate beyond available funding levels."
“The public has known since last summer that the Expansion Project as originally envisioned would not be proceeding and today’s notification officially confirms that fact,” said Authority Chairman Anthony Annunziata. “There remains little doubt though that the current plaza is woefully inadequate and in desperate need of reconfiguration and renovation to meet today’s security and processing requirements, as well as to improve aesthetics and environmental conditions.”
Earlier this year Congressman Higgins wrote to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requesting an expedited effort on the Peace Bridge construction project including consideration of a reduced footprint for the American plaza. This was a follow-up to a March meeting the Congressman had to discuss the Peace Bridge with Secretary LaHood.
“Today begins a fresh chapter in Western New York’s history. The path towards new plaza improvements is clear, allowing us to really focus on innovative, technology-driven ideas about enhancing the way our port-of-entry functions,” said Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority Vice Chairman and Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt.