Trucks to Lewiston? Good Idea!

The Sunday Buffalo News published a story about a ultra-top-secret plan to divert all truck traffic away from the Peace  Bridge and onto the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge. A lot of customs brokerage jobs would have to be moved from Buffalo and Fort Erie to Lewiston and Queenston, but neighborhood concerns over diesel particulate would be assuaged. 

Funny, because here’s what I wrote in February 2008 – six years ago:

The Peace Bridge Expansion is Dead. That’s my prediction. It is never, ever going to happen. Not in my lifetime, not in yours. Frankly, I think that increased traffic capacity isn’t needed in Buffalo anyway. Why shove it down Buffalo’s throat if it so clearly doesn’t want it?

The Ambassador Bridge to Black Rock? Not going to happen. No one’s going to build a plaza and new interchange on the US side with the Scajaquada and 190 right there, particularly given the fact that the push now is to downgrade the Scajaquada to a boulevard of some sort.

While an ideal crossing would be across the river just south of Grand Island, so that it would connect up with the I-290 and I-190, that disturbs residential neighborhoods in Canada.

Instead, we should completely jettison the Peace Bridge expansion altogether and instead increase capacity at Queenston-Lewiston. That single span gets a tremendous amount of truck and vehicular traffic, and recently received an upgrade to five lanes. The Q-L bridge provides direct access on both sides of the span to a major highway; the 405 to the QEW on the Canadian side, and the I-190 on the US side.

If there was any semblance of forward-thinking on the part of the CVB, it would already have been in talks to develop and construct a gorgeous visitor’s center that is run locally – not from Albany. Lease some Thruway property from the Authority and give border crossers a reason to come to a whole host of attractions in Western New York. The fact that there is no “Welcome to New York” or “Welcome to WNY” center on this side of the border underscores just how backwards and simple our supposed tourism promoters are. They’re at Thruway rest areas, but not at the border. How patently stupid; you have to wait until you get to Pembroke or Angola – well on your way out of the metro area.

There comes a time when you just say “enough”. The Peace Bridge project has spent ten years in environmental review, design review, and negotiations over the now-dead shared border management. We can sit and wait another few years for a new administration to change its mind, but it’s been almost ten years now that nothing tangible has happened. The preservation community has drawn a line in the sand as far as the neighborhood that would be adversely affected by a new plaza on the Buffalo side, and we all know about Al Coppola’s threat to move his Pan Am house. What else could be more persuasive?

So screw it. Enough. Everybody wins.

Expand the Queenston-Lewiston bridge with a second, signature span across the Niagara River, right at the escarpment with a gorgeous view of the meandering river leading to Youngstown, and Lake Ontario beyond.

I think that the current Peace Bridge span should be replaced with a more modern, signature span, and that the current steel span should then be demolished. We should move forward with shared border management, which would allow US-bound traffic be pre-screened in Fort Erie with perhaps only spot-checks on the US side. The problem isn’t just neighborhood anger, the access to the I-190 is very poorly laid out, with the southbound ramp located about 1/4 mile west from the northbound ramp access road.

 

And it’s still a crime that we don’t have a visitor’s center to promote local businesses and attractions to Canadian visitors coming off the bridges, or really any tourism services of any sort, such as currency exchange. Ontario maintains one on the 420 in Niagara Falls, and another on the QEW near Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Let me know if I can help you with any other ideas. 

8 comments

  • I was involved in the effort to stop the Ambassador Bridge Company from constructing a trucks only bridge and plaza at Black Rock. We did our homework on the issue, diesel exhaust is a serious and well documented threat to health, not just a nuisance. Fine particulate lodges deep in the lungs causing and aggravating a host of respiratory problems, children and the elderly are especially at risk. Diesel truck plazas have been shown to be “hot spots” with concentrated levels of pollution far beyond safe levels. Truck plazas and diesel trucking in general are not compatiable with densely populated residential neighborhoods. The Peace Bridge should be limited to local delivery trucks only, divert all through truck traffic to Lewiston.

    • Yes, however in the time since that happened, all diesel fuel in North America has been switched to ultra low-sulfur, and all trucks are fitted with particulate filters. I still think that there is a massive “coming to the nuisance” issue with respect to the Peace Bridge; you don’t move to within smelling distance of a highway or international bridge crossing and then have a credible argument that the bridge has to significantly change the way it has already done business.

      Also, why is diesel exhaust from a local delivery truck palpably better than that from an 18-wheeler? The rule should be “passenger vehicles only” and that’s it, as it is on the Rainbow Bridge.

      • Only new trucks are fitted with particulate filters. From the EPA website “Because diesel engines can operate for 20-30+ years millions of older, dirtier diesels are still in use”. As for “coming to the nuisance issue”, my family has lived in Black Rock for 7 generations, many in the Peace Bridge area also have deep roots in the neighborhood. They certainly have a right to have a say in the future of their community. Also the bridge historically did not carry the volume of commercial truck traffic we see today and the planned expansion of the plaza would significantly increase that volume.
        Local delivery is a miniscule proportion of the truck traffic, I think most reasonable people would allow that exception.
        Finally, My son wrote a paper while at Yale Law School titled “Not in Anyones Backyard? The Non-distributive Problem With Environmental Justice”. The paper examined the tendency for polluting and other negative impact projects/industries to locate in poor and/or minority neighborhoods. I find it troubling that you blame the residents for “coming to the nuisance” when the answer is to address the nuisance, not write off an entire neighborhood.

    • The patients at Mount Saint Mary’s Hospital thank you for your concern for their health.

      Don’t want to live near truck routes? Don’t buy homes near ones that were established well before you bought the property.

  • Ridgewaycynic2013

    Once again, Alan, you’re ahead of the curve. I wonder if back in the Spitzer / Paterson era that this might have sailed, instead of the GSA telling everyone to go piss up a rope. And one can’t help but wonder how much influence Andrew was / is exerting behind the scenes.

    I’m looking forward to see what Esmonde has to pontificate on the issue in a week or two…

  • I agreed with you then Alan and still do. The only real issue of routing all trucks through L-Q is the Grand Island Bridges. They’re the really weak link on 190 S from Lewiston to the 90. Shame there can’t be a spur from L-Q across the Escarpment to Rochester. I remember the heady talk of turning the Scajaquada into a Boulevard….How’s THAT progressing? The article gave all of us a glimpse into how Big Government really works for the minorities living near the Peace Bridge, eh?

  • Lets get right down to the economics details. How many customs and brokerage jobs would have to be moved to Lewiston and Queenston from Buffalo and or Fort Erie? And exactly what are the positive economic impacts of either a Signature Bridge, or a new expanded plaza -on Buffalo? Regards the Scajaquada, -the effort to turn it into a boulevard through Deleware Park are moving along again.

  • I’m sure all those West Side residents who are screaming about the pollution from the Peace Bridge are just as concerned about that pollution piling up in Lewiston……on the bridge NEXT TO A HOSPITAL.

    NIMBY. Alive and well.

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