Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Governor Cuomo returned to Buffalo Wednesday to announce a deal has been reached with the Peace Bridge Authority to prioritize $140 million in projects to improve the Buffalo side of the border crossing. This also ends movement toward dissolving the authority.
The deal calls for implementation of the pre-inspection of trucks on Canadian side of the Peace Bridge to begin immediately. The pre-inspection was said to be a gateway to expanding the US plaza. The state and authority will also close deals to buy the Episcopal Home and Busti Avenue.
"This plan is new, specific, and includes timetables on improvements to the bridge," adds Cuomo. "Talk of improvements have been going on for 20 years, conceptual plans. We now have a real plan in place."
Cuomo also announced the deal puts an end to legislation to abolish the Peace Bridge Authority.
The Peace Bridge Authority is a 10-member board with representatives from New York and Canada. While Cuomo continued negotiations with the board, the state legislature gave him approval of a law which If enacted, would have created separate control on each side of the bridge involving visitor facilities, lucrative retail space and policies governing how trucks are inspected and move across the bridge.
The Senate and Assembly overwhelmingly approved the measure as the governor continued hardball negotiations with Canadian officials.
Cuomo and many western New York lawmakers were disappointed with the Peace Bridge Authority over what they see as delays in improvements to the entry plaza on the New York side of the bridge.
Statement By Congressman Brian Higgins on the Peace Bridge
“Peace Bridge progress has been discussed for decades without substantial results. Often stagnation can cause frustration to boil over, but at the same time that heat can be the impetus to progress.
“The past several weeks have involved meaningful discussion between leaders passionate about our communities and eager to do what’s best for the binational region. I was proud to work with Governor Andrew Cuomo, Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer, US Ambassador David Jacobson and Canadian Consul General John Prato, who are to be commended for their direct involvement in the rigorous dialogue which will result in progress not seen at the Peace Bridge in years.
“With this agreement we solidify over $140 million in projects which will support over 2,500 construction jobs over the next three years. Projects will include: construction of the customs house, plaza improvements, pre-inspection, an improved gateway connection, neighborhood improvements in the area of Busti Avenue. Finally Western New Yorkers will see people working and progress happening at this pivotal border crossing.
“Since 1927 the steel span crossing the Niagara River has connected the people and economies of Western New York and Southern Ontario. This weekend we celebrate the 26th annual Friendship Festival which marks the close alliance shared between the United States and Canada since the end of the War of 1812. Now, over two centuries later, we have a renewed commitment to strengthen that bond by facilitating a stronger bridge between our two countries that will forever be connected by peace.”
Statement from Assemblyman Sean Ryan:
“It is clear now that the legislation Senator Grisanti and I put forward was key to seeing progress at the Peace Bridge. I am glad to see that we have achieved the outcome we have been seeking. Real, tangible progress on the American side was needed, and that is what today’s agreement ensures. I am thankful to the large majorities in the Assembly and Senate who joined us in taking action to tell Public Bridge Authority that stagnation must end on the American side of the Peace Bridge. Our legislation sparked progress, and now we have a deal in place that ensures expedited projects here in Buffalo, after decades of delay and failure. My thanks also go out to Governor Cuomo. It is refreshing to see that we have a Governor who does not just talk the talk, he walks the walk. When he said he would work nonstop to ensure movement on projects at the Peace Bridge, he meant it. This is a great agreement for all sides, and I look forward to continued progress.”