New Green Signature Peace Bridge and Plaza Designs Unveiled
The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (PBA), in concert with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), today kicked off a series of six informational open houses to update the public about the choices for a new signature, companion bridge spanning the Niagara River between Buffalo, New York, and Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada and the construction of a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security Plaza at the Peace Bridge.
“The Peace Bridge expansion project is moving forward,” New York State Governor David A. Paterson said. “Last month we unveiled the new signature bridge designs, and now we are inviting the public to view them up close and personal. Feedback from the public will play a strong role in the design decision. We will assure that the Peace Bridge remains a vital international gateway that will provide increased access and support for commerce and economic development in western New York and our entire state.”
The five new bridge design concepts, announced in December, have earned the support of both state, federal and Canadian environmental agencies. Earlier concerns about the potential effect of the bridge designs on fish and bird populations have been resolved with the five bridge concepts being presented.
The first three days of the open house will be held in Buffalo, beginning today from 2:00 to 8:00 P.M. at the New York State Armory, located at 184 Connecticut Street. Other sessions will be at the same location on Friday, January 29, and Saturday, January 30, from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.
The second round of meetings will be held at the Peace Bridge Authority Board Room, 100 Queen Street, Fort Erie, Ontario. Canada's sessions will be held from 2:00 to 8:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 4, and Friday, February 5, and from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. on Saturday, February 6, 2010.
"The Peace Bridge project will build the infrastructure necessary for Western New York to reach our best potential for sustained job growth and economic investment well into the future," said Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27). "With this connection we open up the capacity to import wealth and opportunity from a southern Ontario region and population that is 8.1 million people and growing who feed our airports, hospitals, retail outlets and cultural attractions. I understand the skepticism that comes from years of discussion but we finally nearing the finish line that leads to shovels in the ground."
The Peace Bridge Project is being proposed to improve the operation and functionality of this critical international border crossing. It features a new, modern customs plaza and new signature bridge to accommodate expedited border crossing programs and long-term traffic growth.
Featured at the open house will be depictions of:
• a new gateway and traffic circle entrance to Buffalo;
• a new “Peace Park;”
• preservation and restoration of the historic Hutchinson Chapel;
• renewed bicycle and pedestrian access to the shoreline of the Niagara River;
• a sustainability plan for the Plaza;
• removal of Baird Drive from Front Park to reconnect the park with the local neighborhood; and,
• a “ribbon of green” surrounding the plaza to enhance livability and provide assets for the local community.
The PBA and NYSDOT are in the final stages of developing the environmental impact statement for the project. Public comments will be incorporated into the project record and will be taken into consideration in the decision on which bridge design concept to advance in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. The decision will be issued later this year.
PBA Vice Chairman Kenneth Schoetz said, “During these six days of "Open House," I hope the public takes the chance to look at our work and give us their feedback. The PBA and the State of New York are ready to move forward and I have no doubt Western New York is ready, too.”
New York State Department of Transportation's Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee said, “With Governor Paterson’s direction and support, the development of a new plan for the Peace Bridge is advancing. The series of open houses starting today will help inform the public about exciting new developments in the five new signature bridge options and about the numerous benefits this project offers. We look forward to receiving public input, especially from those who live nearby, as we move forward with our plans to provide the Queen City with a new gateway befitting its importance in our great state.”
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Commissioner, Pete Grannis, said, “NYS DEC is particularly pleased that all of the five proposed signature bridge designs take into consideration the unique and valuable fish and wildlife resources that the Niagara River area hosts, making an effort to minimize impacts to these valuable assets. We look forward to continuing our work with the project team and environmental agencies as this critical project is brought to fruition.”
Linda Figg, president of FIGG Engineering said, “I am proud to have collaborated with Christian Menn to create five signature bridge concepts for consideration and public viewing. Each of the concepts would be an elegant bridge landmark, recognizable to the world as belonging to Buffalo and Fort Erie, and to the crossing of the vibrant Niagara River connecting the United States and Canada. The bridge as finally designed will capture the greatest technology of our time and use the latest eco-friendly green materials. “
Fort Erie Mayor Douglas Martin said, “From a Canadian perspective, the border only works if plazas on both sides of the river function effectively. I am pleased that we can look forward to completing this project for the benefit of this bi-national region.”
The Peace Bridge, which was opened to traffic in 1927, has been owned and operated by the PBA since 1933. The Authority is governed by a 10-member board with an equal number of representatives from Canada and the United States. NYSDOT is the lead state agency for this project and is working co-operatively with the PBA in advancing this project.
The sessions also will give the public opportunities to share their preferences and concerns with the project team through conversations, comment forms or computer surveys. Comments may also be submitted online at https://www.peacebridgex.com/2010designexhibit.aspx and comments also can be mailed to: Al Taylor, NYSDOT Regional Director, 100 Seneca Street, Buffalo, NY 14203
For more information on these meetings or for special accommodation to attend, please call the Peace Bridge Authority office at 716-884-6744 or look online via www.peacebridgex.com.