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Skeptical council reviews Peace Bridge expansion plans

WBFO News file photo

Governor Cuomo may be pushing hard for expansion work on the U-S end of the Peace Bridge, but the Common Council may not be ready to go along.

The current plan for bridge expansion calls for a much larger plaza on the Buffalo end.

The hope is that most Customs work will take place in Fort Erie before a truck gets on the bridge, easing the need for the far larger plaza Homeland Security wanted.

Working together, Albany and the Peace Bridge Authority plan to buy a segment of Busti Avenue to gain access to the now-closed Episcopal Church Home the state is buying.

City Hall must approve the sale of Busti and some council members don't like the idea.

Councilmember Joseph Golombek says he's opposed to the expansion because he sees no proof it's needed and because of air pollution worries.

"The health issues were always there.," Golmbek said.

"It was always a poor choice to build this bridge in a city. Unfortunately it's only been exacerbated because of NAFTA and because of GATT and with the amount of trucks going across the bridge. They are assuming that we are going to believe that with the crackdown on idling and all of this other stuff that suddenly people aren't going to get sick anymore in that neighborhood."

There are serious health concerns on the West Side because so many people have asthma although it's not clear that's completely the result of bridge truck traffic.

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.