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Local elected leaders will keep eye on bridge plaza future

Peace Bridge, Buffalo, NY
File photo
Peace Bridge, Buffalo, NY

By Mark Scott


Buffalo, NY – For more than 15 years, plans were in the making for a new Peace Bridge connecting Buffalo and Fort Erie. Such terms as "twin span" and "signature bridge" were part of the community conversation. But now, it appears a companion span to the Peace Bridge will not be built.

Instead, the Peace Bridge Authority will move forward with a scaled back expansion of the U.S. plaza. Local elected leaders tell WBFO News they are keeping their eye on what's happening.

The bridge authority is planning on using money that would have been spent on the new bridge to finance the plaza expansion. The existing 17-acre plaza would be expanded to 25 acres. But this latest proposal would take less land from a nearby West Side neighborhood than the original plan for a more massive plaza.

Still, Congressman Brian Higgins is not ready to declare a new bridge is dead. He said the bridge authority is acting appropriately by proposing a smaller plaza. Higgins said the ultimate responsibility for paying for a new bridge rests with the U.S. and Canadian governments.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he always wanted to see a plaza plan that would have less of an impact on the West Side while addressing such health issues as diesel fumes from idling trucks.

But when pressed about the authority's decision to abandon plans for a new bridge, Brown said he wants to learn more before he weighs in.

Congressman Higgins said the Buffalo's region's economy is now closely tied to Southern Ontario -- from professional sports and the arts to higher education and retail. He said having a reliable and predictable border crossing is very important.