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Peace Bridge (Mis)understanding

So what did the vaunted “Peace Bridge Understanding” agreement actually say? Here’s a key statement, on the key issue as to likelihood or not of proper environmental review—including consideration of health effects and other community impacts—relative to the planned expansion of the Peace Bridge plaza across Busti Avenue and into the former Episcopal Church Home property, all for a bigger and better Duty Free Store:

First off, a study is being initiated regarding, among other items, “U.S. Plaza improvement projects for which an environmental review or EIS where applicable and undertaken by the appropriate entity being the PBA and/or New York State and its agencies is unnecessary, underway or completed, and which will be accelerated.”


The other items to be studied are projects that were announced and/or in the works weeks or months before: the pilot program for US inspection of trucks on the Canadian side of the bridge, and the so-called “Gateway” project to create accessways from the plaza directly onto the northbound I-90, and from Porter Avenue to the plaza west of Front Park, eliminating Baird Drive that now runs through Front Park on the east side.

If there is—was—any substance at all in the understanding and agreement Governor Andrew Cuomo announced here with such fanfare, it’s hard to discover.

So what was the purpose of the understanding and agreement? Simply to let Cuomo out of the predicament he was facing of actually having to sign into law the bill he must have prompted in the first place—guided through the legislative process by State Senator Mark Grisanti and Assemblyman Sean Ryan, no doubt against their more rational political instincts—to disband the bi-national entity PBA.

The understanding and agreement have been credited with salving some of the wounds sustained mainly by Canadians through all the recent nastiness. More likely, the Canadians have determined—as is their custom—to carry on by playing the grown-ups in their dealings with their intemperate neighbors to the south.

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