Originally appeared in the Buffalo News on June 23rd, 2012
I am opposed to the proposed expansion of the truck plaza deep into the West Side community. The expansion will result in worsening of air quality, related health problems and increased health care costs. The proposal reflects an absence of understanding of factors contributing to truck pollution. They are:
- 1) increased pollution resulting from trucks idling at the bridge,
- 2) trucks idling at the bridge and U.S. Customs booths,
- 3) trucks accelerating out of the booths and
- 4) trucks idling as customers make purchases at the duty-free shop. The city does not get any money out of all this. Simply enlarging the plaza does not address numbers 3 and 4.
Decreased congestion at the bridge will attract trucks to the Peace Bridge, resulting in even more plaza expansion. Thus, we are trading in the community’s health and quality of life for a mega liquor store and parking lot. No tourists come to Buffalo to see a parking lot! There is no traffic congestion 84 percent of the time. The majority of the bridge benefits to Western New Yorkers come from travelers crossing the bridge by cars, not trucks. Plaza expansion is unjust, and has not been thought through.
We need to think outside of the box. Why do we need two bridge authorities a few miles apart? Increasing truck tolls at the Peace Bridge, with improved truck-handling facilities at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, would reduce congestion at the Peace Bridge. Lands bought by the authority should be returned to the city and money slated for plaza expansion used for community improvement. This should concern us all.
Jamson S. Lwebuga-Mukasa, M.D. is the Founder, President and CEO of Respiratory & Environmental Exposure Consultants – http://www.environmental-exposure.com/