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New Peace Bridge group voices support for governor's plan

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There is another push for construction at the Peace Bridge with a new group saying it backs Governor Cuomo's plan to speed bridge development.
A new group calling itself Western New York Leaders for Peace Bridge Progress met Thursday with state officials to talk about where the bridge project stands and what needs to be done. The group is headed by former Thruway Authority Chief Engineer Leonard DiPrima, developer Laura Zaepfel, and Buildings and Construction Trades Council President Paul Brown. 

DiPrima says there were contractors in the meeting who know what needs to be done.

"There were several people that were familiar with some of the project or all of the project and its history. Several of the members here know about construction and know about what's needed to get projects done. Pretty much everybody is familiar with business and the need for business in Western New York," DiPrima says.

In a statement, the group says the bridge project has been in the works for two decades and the plan from Governor Cuomo is the way to move forward. The group says it's the best way to tie together the economies on both sides of the border to improve the local economy.

The group says the project is too important to allow ego and personal differences to stall movement.

State planners are holding a public meeting next week to talk about a ramp to connect the bridge with the Thruway going north and south and how it fits into plans for the bridge. People connected with the project say it would improve Front Park by removing the road between Porter Avenue and the bridge plaza.

"Now there is consensus to build that ramp. There is money to build the ramp, which was always a problem in the past because it was an expensive piece. The governor has voiced his support for this project and part of it is the ramp," DiPrima says.

Improving the park has long been a goal for people pushing back against the Peace Bridge Authority and the state plans for the plaza.

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.