The PBA Replies
by Ron Rienas
The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority is pleased to see a recent reader submission emphasize the negative effects of vehicle congestion and unnecessary idling on the overall air quality and public health of our region.
The purpose of the Peace Bridge project is to provide operational, functional and security improvements that will relieve congestion and improve the overall efficiency and functionality of a critically important border crossing. In so doing air quality will be improved as border wait times are reduced and traffic moves with less idling and reduced starts and stops.
Already, interim improvements made by the PBA have improved air quality. The reconfiguration of the plaza to eliminate the toll booths, the addition of three inspection booths, and the relocation of the Duty Free have all served to reduce vehicle queuing and emissions. However, much more needs to be done. The Peace Bridge project is designed to improve Customs’ processing of traffic, eliminate traffic from Front Park and neighborhood streets, eliminate emission causing stop lights, institute extensive buffering and parkland, and contribute to neighborhood enhancements including improving indoor air quality.
While vehicle emissions are reduced almost yearly through more mandatory use of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuels and enhanced engine technologies like direct-injection, the average American still spends 90 percent of his or her time neither behind-the-wheel nor outside, but indoors at the home or office. According to Dr. Jamson Lwebuga-Mukasa of the Center for Asthma and Environmental Exposure, individuals face potentially serious respiratory health concerns due to ultrafine particles produced through cooking units, improper heating and air filtration systems, dust, dirt build-up and poor ventilation. Dr. Mukasa wrote in a November 2009 analysis that such household particulates are five to ten times more dangerous and concentrated than what is measured at the roadsides of the busiest truck routes.
No matter the source, the Authority believes that respiratory health and a better neighborhood environment are worthy of pursuing. We encourage all residents to join our advocacy for the construction of a new bridge and plaza that will ease congestion at one of the busiest northern border crossings. Improved air quality is but one of the many benefits of moving forward with plans to build a signature span and international gateway for our region’s future.
General Manager, Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority
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