I am by no means an old person, and that isn’t meant as a slight to people who are older than me. However, I was in seventh grade when serious talks about the Peace Bridge caught fire. Fifteen years later, I have graduated from college, have a job and still trek across the three lane bridge opened in 1927.
Fifteen years of some form of conversation on the Peace Bridge dominating most conversation throughout Buffalo. There have been talks of a signature span, a twin span, the common tern, LED lights and even a bit of obstruction. After all, what would any failed project in Buffalo be without some form of obstruction masquerading as preservation?
Perhaps the most realistic plan for the Peace Bridge expansion was scuttled after it was determined that birds would not be capable of flying around an object. Any dreams of a signature span were a little too big for a city like Buffalo that is built on simplicity and little forward thinking. Now, as a city and region, we have devolved to simply expanding the American plaza while keeping the three lane bridge.
Aside from the obvious failure that was letting birds derail an entire bridge, it is sad to think that what once could have been a signature bridge welcoming all to the region has become plans for a re-configured inspection plaza. Things like this perpetuate Buffalo’s defeatist attitude. What is more pathetic is that the agenda of a select few will impact the entire region.
As of right now, the plaza expansion is being held up by a handful of obstructionists who are attempting to save a handful of old houses along Busti Avenue. Note, I did not use preservationist or historic in that last sentence. These people aren’t preserving shit, they’re obstructing progress. In addition, old doesn’t necessarily mean historic. Just cuz Jedadiah sneezed on the corner of the house in 1893 doesn’t make it historic. At some point Buffalo needs to get past saving every brick laid before the Great Depression.
By providing the American plaza additional space for car and truck inspections, traffic on the bridge will flow much better, as will the traffic heading to the I-190. Providing a Duty Free Store is just part of the program. You have a major border crossing and you capitalize on those looking for last minute items. Capitalism works.
However, those opposing the expansion plan are speaking out against the demolition of the old homes to make way for a governmental project that doesn’t compliment the historical fabric of the neighborhood.
Forget that the Peace Bridge serves as the main border crossing between Canada and the US for miles and miles. Forget that the commercial truck traffic crossing the Peace Bridge each day is astronomical. Forget the general economic impact enjoyed by the city of Buffalo thanks to the Peace Bridge. Forget all of that. Because these houses – which have been purchased by the PBA – must be saved.
What these people seem to be ignoring is the simple fact that a new plaza is going to be beneficial to the city and those travelling on the bridge. It should serve as a tool to clear congestion on the bridge while also allowing additional truck traffic to cross each day (if you’re playing at home, more trucks = more commerce). Those two factors add up to a clear bridge with less traffic while allowing for more traffic to flow through at a steady rate.
Even if you have Mackenzie MacHale’s grasp of economics (watch The Newsroom), that should make sense.
Of course, we are sitting and waiting for yet another lawsuit raised by a vocal few to attempt and derail yet another piece of development that would clearly help the city move forward.
At what point will Buffalo learn to get out of its own way? The bridge debate has raged for 15 years and there is no end in sight. Anyone with one iota of common sense knows that this thoroughfare is a key piece to bringing outside money to the region.
Maybe 15 more years of nonsense is what is necessary. Perhaps by then the birds will have learned to fly around towers and the NIMBYs will have been eradicated. Of course, by then we won’t need roads.