By Don Glynn
Niagara Gazette — While the plan’s dead in the water — at this point — the mere thought of diverting truck traffic from the Peace Bridge to the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge is enough to spark concern.
In fact, Assemblyman John Ceretto (R-C, Lewiston) was even more disturbed that the federal government reportedly had talked about the diversion scheme without any attempt to contact state and local government officials.
Ceretto noted that only recently an agreement was reached between the state and Canadian authorities to make vital improvements to the Peace Bridge. Angered over the apparent snub, Ceretto dashed off a letter to the General Services Administration asking for assurances to the local officials that the GSA plan is actually off the table. “It’s a very bad plan for the residents of Lewiston, Grand Island, Niagara Falls and the Town of Niagara,” the lawmaker said, “The towns don’t have the necessary infrastructure to handle the increased traffic that would result from more trucks on the 1-190 (Niagara Expressway).”
Lew Holloway, general manager of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, which owns and operates the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, said he was unaware of the diversion plan until it was reported in the media. “Obviously we need redundancy in our bridges,” Holloway said, citing alternate routes when, for example, one of the spans is closed because of a emergency. “But to handle any such diversion (on a regular basis), we’d need significant expansion at the Lewiston-Queenston plaza,” he added. Such a major change in the truck traffic flow would require a careful study of the increased capacity at the Grand Island bridges. In addition, the Customs and Border Protection agencies would need more lanes to process the added influx.
ON THE ROAD: The storm last week that made it daunting for motorists to keep their vehicles on the road, especially on Wednesday, brought the Robert Moses Parkway issue into focus again. For the morning commuters there was little evidence of snow plowing between Lake Road in Porter and the Village of Lewiston. The parkway section from the village to Niagara Falls was closed. The two-way traffic — one way northbound and the other southbound — was an extra challenge for drivers who could barely make out the road with the blowing and drifting snow.
As concerned citizens know, the parkway need has been debated for decades. In 2006, a regional planner with the state Department of Transportation, accurately predicted the North Project — the plan then to remove the parkway from the Rainbow Bridge to the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge — would take years, if it happened at all.
ACROSS THE BORDER: Toronto also is dealing with a high profile road issue: what to do about a crumbling stretch of the Gardiner Expressway linked to the Queen Elizabeth Way. Mayor Rob Ford staunchly opposes any plan to tear it down. “I want to maintain it, just like most of Torontonians want it to be maintained,” the mayor said last week. In recent months, officials have been weighing options, from making repairs (estimated at $230 million) to removing the expressway and replacing it with another version that would provide space for parks and development ($610 million to $910 million). One bureaucrat said any project to tear it down would not likely happen for several years. Sound familiar?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I don’t think this community is big enough for a food truck” — former Lewiston Mayor Richard Soluri, among the speakers at a meeting Monday, opposing a plan by a Ransomville businessman to operate a mobile food service in the village, from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Terry Collesano, the current mayor, noted that many business owners along Center Street also objected to the proposal.
TRIVIA QUIZ: The only tunnel in New York state that runs under the Erie Canal is located near Medina in Orleans County. (Answer to Thursday question)Contact Reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246