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Bridge plan prompts air pollution concerns

Mike Desmond/WBFO

With Governor Cuomo putting up millions of dollars to speed Peace Bridge expansion, community activists want to know if more traffic will translate into more air pollution.

Air pollution from bridge and Thruway traffic has been an issue on the West Side for years, as has the very high asthma rate turned up in local and national studies.

There has been very little air quality monitoring, although there was some in an earlier phase of planning for bridge and plaza expansion.

The air problems reflect bridge and road traffic and possibly a coal-fired power plant along the Ontario side of Lake Erie.

"If the Peace Bridge expands, you know there will be more trucks coming through and we need them to be able to monitor all that pollution," said activist Rebecca Soto.

"Right now, we have a lot of people that are ill. So we need to do something on getting those monitors."

Soto points out the expense of respiratory problems often get passed onto taxpayers in terms of rising healthcare costs.

Activists who marched to a protest rally next to the bridge yesterday say Homeland Security has to move traffic through faster in order to ease fumes.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.