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Originally appeared on BuffaloRising on October 18th, 2012

In another, “too little, too late” move in the Peace Bridge neighborhood, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has announced a new pilot program at the bridge. The program entails the temporary relocation of the U.S. Customs screening for inbound trucks and cars to Fort Erie. This would have been a welcome move years ago before the Public Bridge Authority was moving full-steam ahead with demolishing the immediate neighborhood, but now it’s a bit of a moot point.

It’s no secret that the Public Bridge Authority (PBA) plans on building an expanded plaza at the base of the Peace Bridge. What is secret are the exact expansion plans and to date a comprehension plan has yet to be made available to the public. This hasn’t stopped the PBA from proceeding with construction though. Token efforts at abating pollution problems such as the idling policy which amounts to a suggestion to truck drivers to turn off their engines and the misplacement of air monitoring equipment that won’t even measure the right size of particle matter in exhaust fumes are empty gestures at best.

It would appear that the relocation of Customs screening to Fort Erie would be essential in order for construction on the new plaza to take place, given the small foot print on the American side. The removal of the screening in Buffalo will certainly go a long way in tilting the abovementioned air monitoring station results.

If local and regional politicians were really concerned with the pollution from idling truck traffic why not make the relocation permanent? The negative health effects of living and working near the Peace Bridge have been well documented for over 20 years. Better yet, relocate commercial truck traffic altogether to a border crossing that doesn’t abut a highly dense, urban area.

To the untrained eye, this appears to be progress.  But for those that have contracted cancer, asthma, and other respiratory alignments living in Buffalo’s West Side it’s more of the same political empty gestures and spin we’ve come to expect.

Interested in learning more about this health issue affecting all Buffalo residents?  Come out to a public informational session hosted by the West Side Environmental Defense Fund on October 24, 2012 at 7PM at the Lafayette Presbyterian Church located at 875 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo. 

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