Big changes roll out for Peace Bridge traffic

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- The state’s Gateway Connections Improvement Project aims to ease traffic congestion from the Peace Bridge onto Buffalo’s streets.

The major changes of the $56 million project rolled out Tuesday.

  • Baird Drive, which runs through Front Park, is closed
  • A roundabout at Porter Avenue directs traffic onto the Peace Bridge, the northbound Interstate, or to LaSalle Park
  • All traffic exiting on the U.S. side of the Peace Bridge will be directed to the right

The hope, is that with a new roundabout and other changes, there will be more direct access between the Peace Bridge Plaza and Interstate 90.

“I don’t see there being much of a change. The traffic seems like it’s the same. Doesn’t seem like it’s speeding up too much,”  said Troy Lemiszko of Buffalo.

Many Buffalo residents who take the route regularly aren’t convinced the changes will help with another problem; air quality.

Kathy Mecca lives just a couple blocks from the Porter Avenue roundabout. She’s been an activist against diesel emissions for years as head of the Niagara Gateway Columbus Park Association.

She said soot and debris from semis builds up on her windows, and is making her neighbors sick.

Mecca would like to see truck traffic diverted to another bridge, with less residential areas near it.

“There should be an environmental impact study done on the entire region of crossings. That’s the purpose of studying the environment. Not just one crossing separately from the other crossing,” Mecca said.

According to the state’s environmental impact statement for this project, it complies with  environmental legislation and regulations by the New York State Department of transportation.

Mecca feels the project doesn’t go far enough.

“Reduce the volume of trucks, until you move the trucks. Anything else is like putting no lipstick on a pig. You can build another bridge, you can build 15 bridges, you can build a $56 million ramp, you can do all kinds of things. But it doesn’t address the one and only issue that should be forefront. And that is the environmental health of innocent residents.”

Another aspect of the project is to boost the green space in Front Park; by eliminating Baird Drive, the state is hoping to accomplish that.

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