Wrecking Buffalo: Public Bridge Authority Wipes Out Busti Properties

The Public Bridge Authority took down eight homes along Busti Avenue yesterday after a restraining order blocking the demos was lifted by Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy late Friday.  The homes between Vermont Avenue and Rhode Island Street were removed to accommodate an expanded bridge plaza that will expedite pass-through truck traffic and allow for a larger Duty Free Shop.  This is what passes for progress in Buffalo.
Three of the houses demo’d were eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, including the locally landmarked Samuel Wilkeson House (below). It was an excellent example of the Tuscan Villa style and was home to Colonel Samuel Henry Wilkeson (grandson of Judge Samuel Wilkeson, the most significant of Buffalo’s founding fathers). The house at 771 Busti was the last physical link to the Wilkesons in Buffalo.
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From the Niagara Gateway Columbus Park Association:
We’re very disappointed that Judge McCarthy’s decision came on a Friday giving us no opportunity to take additional action.

Just last week the Governor’s own appointed SAGE Commission recommended that more studies about merging the Public Bridge Authority and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission are needed.

Why the rush to demolish Busti Row the day after the court’s ruling? Discussions with the DOT are underway to remove the Sky Way and portions of the Robert Moses Expressway. Why would the Governor’s top economic development appointee Sam Hoyt ignore the trends to remove transportation mistakes to begin another without public input?

Obviously, the intentions of the PBA are not what’s best for the community, historic preservation or the city of Buffalo but solely self-serving. It’s a thin veil over what they really intend to do – expand the plaza across Busti avenue then acquire and demolish the Episcopal Church Home to build a new Duty Free Store. Segmenting their plans one step at a time is a legal maneuver to evade environmental regulations.

The WNY community should be extremely alarmed and outraged that an international entity under no obligation to serve Buffalo’s interests is allowed to buy any historic property in our city, let it go to seed, and then destroy it, virtually without limitation.

The larger issue is what has the PBA actually won? Gutting a community’s heritage is a hollow victory that benefits no one but the authority. It does however demonstrate how disconnected they are from what other developers are eagerly doing to revitalize historic city properties. Developments that create good paying jobs and promote sustainable economic growth for Buffalo.

The Public Bridge Authority continues to operate as a 20th century Robert Moses prototype that forces Buffalo to relive past transportation mistakes for the next 100 years. Elected officials should be working together to remove transportation barriers that impede the growth of livable waterfront communities because that’s really what city residents want.

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Above photo by Becky Harbison

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From Homes Near the Peace Bridge Facebook page

About the author  ⁄ WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

89 comments
300miles
300miles

IMO - no, it doesn't mean they made the demolition decision due to health concerns. If the health concerns are really that severe within the radius you mentioned then there would only be 2 options: get rid of everyone within that radius, or alter the plaza design to remove the source of the contamination. They did neither.

whatever
whatever

Ok 300, that's a responsive reply.

Here's info to your q's about distances and other houses still there.

This says California recommends a 500 ft distance.

"... The California Air Resources Board has recommended limits on how close sensitive sites—like homes, parks, school yards, daycare facilities—should be to a rail yard, distribution center, freeway, and high truck-traffic street (see Table 1).

CARB concludes that if these recommendations are followed, exposure to air pollutants can be reduced by 80%.

Although these recommendations only apply to future developments, CARB’s conclusions suggest that people already living this close to freight transportation sites are at elevated risk.

Table 1. RECOMMENDED DISTANCES BETWEEN FREIGHT TRANSPORT AND SENSITIVE LAND USES

Rail Yard 1,000 feet

High Traffic Road 500 feet

Distribution Center 500 feet" ....

While here's nothing absolute about 500 ft, California is aggressive about environmental issues so if that's what they came up with it might be as good a subjective yardstick as any.

Now looking at areal view of those blocks and its scaling....

http://binged.it/Z4dkkE

Those 8 now-demoed houses (right next to label 'Busti Ave' at that link) look well within 500 ft of almost all of the PB plaza.

Remaining houses on opposite (eastern) side of Columbus Pkwy might be either beyond 500 ft or roughly that distance, depending on which part of PB plaza is looked at.

In between those and where the 8 demoed houses were, yes there's still around 10 houses on the closer (western) side of Columbus which seem also probably within 500 ft of at least some of PB plaza - even though not as near as 8 demoed houses were.

There's also a few others with approx 500 ft distance further south on Busti.

However, how can anyone who believes the asthma risk is real argue rationally that continued use of those 10 or even more still-standing farther-away houses which have approx the 500 ft recommended distance mean that the 8 now-demoed houses which were even closer to the PB plaza should've been returned to residential use?

Doesn't that expression 'perfect is the enemy of good' apply?

If the health danger is serious, then isn't it very good that no people are still living in the 8 demoed houses closest to the risk and the only ones which were well within 500 ft of it?

Wouldn't this mean the demo decision of Cuomo & Hoyt was actually on the side of heath - to the contrary of what the caption in WCP's photo of them says?

300miles
300miles

I'll set aside the issue of truck access to the Peace Bridge because that change is unlikely (as you said) for several reasons.

But let's look at the question that's been asked 3 times now about why we should have houses right next to the plaza due to health concerns. Can you actually show that the health issues for the houses 1 street over are any less? How about 2 streets over? My point is that fumes don't just stay in the backyards of those 8 houses. They waft over the entire neighborhood and probably across the West Side. So again, what has priority here? Expanding a truck plaza that has no real benefit to the city? Should the entire West Side be leveled now since these fumes aren't going to be safe for 4 blocks? Using health concerns as a reason to demolish these 8 houses doesn't make sense unless another 100 houses are demolished too... and for who's benefit in the end?

whatever
whatever

300 - no, necessity wasn't intended in my question...

300>"because the question itself makes the assumption that a truck plaza is necessary"

Assumption in the q is just that the truck crossing will be there for a very, very long time for reasons I've described and are evident even if I hadn't described (and which nobody has refuted about the overwhelming likelihood of the truck crossing continuing indefinitely at PB).

Combining of bridge authorities is perhaps a good idea for other reasons, but it's a red herring in likelihood of restricting trucks to only Lewiston.

Both the PBA and NF Bridge Authority directors are majority appointed half/half by Cuomo on the U.S. side and his counterparts in Ontario.

Authority directors on both sides obey policy directives of elected officials who appoint them. If they didn't, they'd be replaced with new directors who would.

Banning trucking from Buffalo and Fort Erie would be a decision of elected leaders at the state/province and federal/national levels.

Appointed bureaucrats who direct the bi-national authorities don't make that huge policy change.

In practicality/likelihood, here's how the alternatives seem -

(1.) Lewiston-only-for-truck-crossings: fully impactical, zero likelihood.

(2.) a new truck bridge around Tonawanda but south of Grand Island: some practicality, but very unlikely for political & financial reasons.

(3.) a new truck bridge at the IRR site in Black Rock - perhaps the most practical idea, but also very unlikely due to opposition from both NIMBYs and some U.S. side officials as Bini described.

(4.) continued use of Peace Bridge for trucking, with in long term (say 20 years away still) a second bridge being built - practical even if less ideal than #3 or #2, very very likely.

Merging the PBA and NF bridge authority wouldn't change any of the above.

(Bini - does the above list look like a good summary?)

Anyhow, the question remains - if asthma is a serious risk, how could human occupancy be advocated for the 8 houses which were absolutely closest, just a few feet away, from where the truck crossing will be for a very long time to come still?

LouisTully
LouisTully

Hear, hear. I'd rather have a neighborhood than a truck plaza.

Re: someone's previous discussion about the "ghetto" between Carolina and Porter, west of Niagara. I took Busti home the other day and it's clear why it has become what some would call "ghetto". Since those west side neighborhoods were decimated to make way for the 190/33 West Side Connector, the City has done little to correct its wrong. Those properties have continued to decline and lose value because of the mistakes 50 years old. That 8-block-long on/offramp to the 190 is INSANELY UNNECESSARY! Particularly now that the connector is never going to happen.

Quixote
Quixote

what meeting was this?

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

re: truck plaza not needed and redirect all trucks to Lewiston:

It is wishful thinking that we can eliminate truck traffic from Peace Bridge. And to process trucks, they need some space. I'd love to eliminate truck traffic from PB, but it simply will never happen (at least unless there's another alternative a stone throw away, operated by the same Authority).

While I would support combining bridge authorities (N Falls and Bflo) I don't think Fort Erie would. For us it's regional. For them it's local.

300miles
300miles

Why is no one addressing Whatever's elemental question: If the health risk of truck fumes is so utterly dire, why on earth should we be trying to keep all homes right up to the very edge of the plaza?

because the question itself makes the assumption that a truck plaza is necessary at all, and that a truck plaza has a higher priority than an existing historical neighborhood. It's not, and it doesn't. The bigger picture looks beyond what some politician or state authority tells us our limited options are. They're not considering our needs anyway.

merge the bridge authorities.

have large trucks use queenston

make the peace bridge cars and bicycles only with a smaller plaza

keep our neighborhoods intact

no more sacrifices for trucks just passing thru

whatever
whatever

BRL, your Lewiston-only idea would actually _add_ to health issues due to current traffic congestion fumes between the 290 and G.I. bridge which WGRZ reported last week is being blamed for 30% of the controversial Tonawanda pollution:

"Earlier this week, some eye-opening and frightening numbers were released by the State Department of Health regarding elevated cancer rates in the areas surrounding Tonawanda's industrial core.

Well the Town of Tonawanda is using the same stats the health department used to try and crack down on what the numbers indicate is among the biggest polluters, the Grand Island toll barrier.

It is actually a combination of the highway design, a convergence of the I-190 and I-290 and then the toll barrier which often acts as a bottle neck.

Town of Tonawanda engineer Jim Jones says that the so-called mobile source component, or traffic, accounts for around 30 percent of the pollution. ..."

That's the current pollution there - before all the trucks to/from Canada would start using it instead of the Peace Bridge as you want.

You've seen the backups there now sometimes - from the G.I. bridge all the way past the Sheridan exit backed up onto westbound part of the 290.

And to that, you suggest adding _all_ of the Canada-bound trucks which currently use the PB?

This helps explain why that approach is a complete non-starter, why it isn't even considered by any of our progressive pols on the U.S. side (not to mention Canada's opposition to the idea of banning that trucking from Fort Erie where they've had so much public and private investments in highways and other facilities).

whatever
whatever

Ok, finally for the indirect - that's from businesses in Buffalo or Erie Co whose success benefits from efficiency of trucking via Peace Bridge instead of being restricted to only using Lewiston via the 290 (thus having to cross Grand Island from 290) which you and Ricchiazzi say should be the only truck crossing in WNY.

While indirect jobs & tax revenues are more complicated to estimate/prove, their existence is very real.

Sticking with example of Ford plant on Rte 5 - that alone has 10,000 truck trips per year over the Peace Bridge says this.

It isn't in Buffalo, but it's in Erie Co so that Ford plant itself and its hundreds of well paid workers pay a lot of sales taxes some of which goes to the city govt budget. It's likely some managers and UAW members who work there live in the city since it's only a few miles away, so there'd be some property tax revenues and spin off from their shopping, etc.

Not that the plant would be at risk to move to Niagara County, but its long term economic success (along with that of Ford's assembly plant in Ontario) does benefit from using the Peace Bridge for many thousands of truck trips per year.

For a quick non-suburb example, that same link says the General Mills plant in Buffalo sends 1,000 trucks per year over the Peace Bridge.

"Ford Motor Company's Woodlawn Stamping Plant annually ships 10,000 loads across the Peace Bridge, while General Mills send 1,000 shipments yearly across the span."

There's no reason to doubt that there aren't also many smaller business in the city and inner burbs who benefit from Peace Bridge for exports &/or imports.

As of 2004, 15% of all shipments to Canada over the PB are from WNY businesses, and an additional 10% are from other parts of NY state. (pg 82 here)

"Figure 6-22: Tonnage to Canada by Origin in the U.S. for 2004

Peace Bridge

Buffalo/Niagara 842,703 15%

Other New York 511,744 9%"

Those middle #s are tonnage figures. That's a lot of businesses here making stuff and sending it there. There's no reason to think none of those WNY businesses are in the city with jobs and paying taxes. General Mills is one.

The repeated claim is just flat wrong to say it's all pass through from elsewhere with zero jobs here or tax revenue here.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

re: diesel improvements being, for practical purposes, 10-15 years away:

Full speed ahead, any bridge here (IRB crossing) would be 15 years away minimum before being completed.

whatever
whatever

"no advantage to the neighborhood or city"

Sure are for city - see my replies above.

And I'll borrow a Bini sentence to make a related point:

bini>"In a town like Fort Erie, the bridge is the largest tax contributor, one of the largest employers and the gorilla everyone wants to keep happy."

Logically, how could it be that there'd be so much impact from taxes & jobs on the Fort Erie side but not any of it at all on Buffalo's side of the same bridge?

It's even more obvious over there among a much smaller population, but a similar absolute amount very likely happens here too.

whatever
whatever

Before getting to the indirect...

even from just the more direct activities in my comment above there's quite a few direct jobs in the city, both private & public sectors, which would instead be in or near Lewiston (if anywhere in WNY).

For taxes - I don't know if businesses located at the PB plaza pay city property taxes (and I don't know if the PBA pays any equivalent of taxes or fees to the City govt?), but even if not, some of those businesses aren't at the PB plaza so either they or their landlords do pay city property taxes.

It's a safe bet that a good portion of those companies' managers & workers live in the city - and likewise for public sector workers related to PB trucking (Customs, PBA, etc) - so there's further impact to Buffalo's property tax base.

All of those businesses, even those located at the PB plaza, have to pay Erie County sales taxes of which Buffalo's city govt receives a significant share.

And their employees who live in or near the city to be near their jobs also often pay Erie Co sales taxes and property taxes (even if they live in our burbs), and those who live in the city are customers at many city businesses - spinoff effects there.

If those businesses were all up in Lewiston under your approach, all those sales taxes would be paid to Niagara County from which Buffalo city govt doesn't receive any portion, and the businesses (brokerages, etc) would pay property taxes up there instead of in Buffalo - as would public & private employees who want to live near their jobs which would be up there not here.

whatever
whatever

BRL - what you propose clearly would reduce jobs in the city, directly & indirectly.

Some direct examples are so plainly evident, I'm surprised you'd make extreme claims like "[wouldn't'] have any impact on jobs in the city or on the city's tax base. These trucks do not contribute in any way ..."

But okay, let's start with immediate/direct jobs.

Here's 3 categories -

- federal govt employees (Customs Bureau , etc) who work at the PB for truck cargo reasons,

- various PBA staff related to truck crossings in both directions - administrators, inspections plaza operations/upkeep/etc,

- managers/workers/owners of private sector customs brokerage co's for import/export processing

For the broker businesses, online directory Manta lists 22 companies under Customs Brokers Companies in Buffalo, NY.

Of those 22 businesses, at least half are located at or not far from Peace Bridge, which is in the city of course.

Here's 11 from that Manta list of 22:

Affiliated Customs Brokers USA 1 Peace Bridge Plaza #313, Buffalo NY

Bay Brokerage 1567 Military Road #4, Buffalo NY

Bcb International Inc 1010 Niagara Street, Buffalo NY

Buffalo Custom House Brokerage 1010 Niagara Street, Buffalo NY

Cataract Customshouse Brkrg 1 Peace Bridge Plaza #309, Buffalo NY

Emery Customs Brokers 215 Peace Bridge Plaza, Buffalo NY

Fedex Trade Networks Transport & Brokerage, Inc 128 Dearborn Street, Buffalo NY

Great Lakes Customs Brokerage 1 Peace Bridge Plaza #M1, Buffalo NY

Metro Customs Brokers 1 Peace Bridge Plaza #M3, Buffalo NY

Russell A Farrow US Inc 1 Peace Bridge Plaza #210, Buffalo NY

Willson International Inc Peace Bridge Whse #315, Buffalo NY

Also - some of the other 11 co's of the 22 listed at that link are in Buffalo/city too. I pasted above only the ones at quick look pretty near the PB. But some jobs at the other half of them might also be in the city due to PB cargo.

(and that's not to mention other companies here for logistics, warehousing, maybe truck maintenance, ... and then there's even more indirect jobs & tax revenue which maybe I'll touch on in another comment...)

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I don't disagree this route would add time and incur some costs but these are minor inconveniences that would be greatly offset by the overall improvement in health outcomes. Averting health care costs would save far more dollars and result in a much better quality of life for all.

We seem too eager to trade our health and environment for economic activities that many times provide no tangible benefit to us.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I don't see how diverting interstate trucking around the city proper would have any impact on jobs in the city or on the city's tax base. These trucks do not contribute in any way and simply pass through the area on their way to their destination.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

The health risk from diesel exhaust is indeed dire, the answer is to move the trucks not the residents. There are many options including a bridge built in an undeveloped area or better yet the use of intermodal. I realize this would add some costs but we are presently ignoring the much greater cost to public health to accomodate the trucking industry. Those that profit from our public infrastructure should pay the real costs, not be able to avoid the consequences of their actions and defer those health care costs to the public.

On your points

1. A. Buffer zones are effective at reducing noise and making the site less intrusive visibly but do little to mitigate air pollution problems. Diesel exhaust does not stay neatly in the confines of the buffer zone.

B. Diesel trucks are years away from adopting the technology you cite and the lifespan of the existing fleet pushes that window out to at least 10-15 more years. It is not acceptable to allow another generation to be subjected to this danger simply for reasons of economics or convenience.

C. Same as above, particulates will continue to be spewed by the old trucks that will be grandfathered in.

2. The 190/198 interchange is landlocked making expansion not economically feasible.

3. I too visited Canada during the time if the Ambassador proposal and found widespread opposition to the idea, most centered around the environmental/pollution issues.

Finally, I live within sight of the crossing, this is personal for me as my family has lived in Black Rock for 7 generations and I have invested much in my home and my community. Although Black Rock is challenged by poverty the neighborhood has real potential, especially in our waterfront location. The newly designated Market Square Historic District is directly adjacent to the International Bridge. The area is the oldest intact neighborhood in the City of Buffalo and contains many architecturally significant structures. Building a diesel truck crossing would provide no benefit to the community, would greatly diminish the quality of life in the neighborhood, and would discourage those looking to invest or reside in the neighborhood.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

Why is no one addressing Whatever's elemental question: If the health risk of truck fumes is so utterly dire, why on earth should we be trying to keep all homes right up to the very edge of the plaza?

This is suddenly a hot topic on this thread; lots of comments, lots of down votes, lots of eyes. So where are you all? Why can't you just answer the man's very obvious question?

The deafening silence on that issue sheds light on why I personally support a Black Rock crossing. I'll give you several reasons.

I, too, can illuminate much history on the subject, having been a participant in Peace Bridge Association committees for years, then protests against the Authority, then was a longtime member of James Pitts' Common Council Committee, then hired on my own dime an engineer to design an alternative plaza location (on Niagara Street), which eventually won the support of Masiello (mayor at the time), Giambra (when he was Controller of the City on his way to County Hall), the Niagara District Councilman, the council president and several other councilmen, lots of the neighborhood groups, etc. I got on the news and in the newspaper several times. I organized block clubs to oppose the Authority, I was one of those demanding public design charrettes, all of which I participated in, etc. Let me respond to some points BlackRockLifer (who opposes a Black Rock Crossing) brought up:

1. Diesel exhaust A): The proximity of the Columbus Park neighborhood to the bridge is right up to the very edge of the truck traffic. That 15 acres of the Peace Bridge is dwarfed by the vacant industrial land available at the International Railway Bridge which is more than ten times as large. Therefore a far larger buffer could be built.

Diesel exhaust B): Every passenger car in America fueled by gasoline will soon be required to have start/stop technology, meaning that just like a hybrid in two or three years every passenger car in America will turn itself off automatically at traffic lights, drive thrus, etc. and then turn themselves on instantaneously when the gas is stepped on. If you haven't already driven a Prius, go to your local dealer and try one. It's amazing it can work, but it does, and the feds have mandated it for all passenger vehicles. Reason? Global warming, fuel savings.

News Flash: that same technology (and hybrid diesel tractor trailers) are actively being developed for the trucking industry. Reason? Fuel savings of enormous magnitude. In short: trucks won't be idling in the near future like they do now. They won't be legally allowed to and it wouldn't be economically feasible to even if it were legal, given the operating advantages of competitors.

Diesel exhaust C) Particulates are fast being outlawed internationally and domestically. Future trucks, regardless of hybrid drive and start/stop engines, will pollute orders of magnitude less than today. Reason: the technology already exists or is close enough to being achieved (see auto industry) that it will be low hanging fruit politically, and therefore will be legislated.

So, I'm not very worried about truck fumes in my back yard, particularly ten or 15 years down the road. And I'm never leaving the place I'm living in until it's time for the nursing home, and I'm raising my boys here.

2. Exit/Entrance ramps for the 198/190:

First, a condition: I would exclude tractor trailer truck traffic, in my model, from the 198 between Grant and Main, ideally, but between Elmwood and Parkside minimally. This should be done anyway. 18 wheelers shouldn't be crossing right through the center of Delaware Park. Period. When sitting in a production of Shakespeare, you shouldn't be listening to 18 wheelers engines revving up the hill, but you do. I digress. I'd keep trucks only on the 190, north or south, the 198 being reserved primarily for automobile traffic.

Now, my only rebuttal to BRL above on this point is that the PBA paid for the 'study' that concluded that the International Railway Bridge was unfeasible in terms of entrance/exit, and even then this was driven by the 198. I have also heard counterargument that the 'insurmountable hurdles' the PBA cited could easily be addressed, given the quantity of land available, and particularly so if connecting to the 198 was not required. The PBA showed that connecting to the 198 was a nightmare, but the Ambassador Group insisted that this was not necessary. And in fact, the Ambassador group bought dozens of acres here in Buffalo and also on the other side in Canada, but the Peace Bridge Authority beat them to one very key piece of property on the Canadian side right at the bridge crossing, specifically in order to foil Ambassador from assembling all the land they needed.

Now, if the PBA truly believed that the railway crossing was so impossible, why'd they outbid and out duel Ambassador for a key piece of land Ambassador was trying desperately to obtain? Why do that unless you secretly suspect Ambassador really could produce a viable plan and therefore you'd better stop them some other way--like buying land they need.

3: Canadian Opposition:

I know a good deal about this, too. In my activist days, I personally trecked to Canada numerous times, stuck slingers in many hundreds of doors announcing meetings I'd organized along with New Millennium (we started out as compadres, NMG and me, but when I went around to block clubs advocating suing the Authority, they thought I was being too militant and we then worked separately, but on friendly terms, at least for a while--that is, until it became obvious that I cared about traffic and plaza, not design of bridge, at which time we parted further). Anyway, I spoke with lots of Canadians.

I also spoke to the Canadian equivalent of the Common Council at one of their meetings (covered by news stations here), their mayor, others.

My take (strongly, if very quietly supported by one of their Councilman-equivalents):

The Canadians were unified in their opposition to the Black Rock site only because most of them never believed it could possibly fly in Buffalo. They'd made a huge investment already at the Peace Bridge site. To shift truck traffic to the International Railway Bridge would require much more money for more facilities (but was, in that council person's mind and others, balanced by more traffic, given the greater capacity for processing same--plus most of their money was federal, so it wasn't like the facilities would cost Fort Erie, per se). It would split their town physically by putting the trucks closer to downtown, in the fears of some, although the councilman equivalent there didn't buy it and didn't think many there did, either, since that land on their side of the river is just as brown and industrial and large and empty as ours is. His belief: If Buffalo could be persuaded that International Railway was a real possibility, Fort Erie would jump on board in a heartbeat. That was his take. Their real belief was that shifting attention to this site would mean nothing would ever get done and therefore they were insisting on the Peace Bridge. If we welcomed another bridge, they jump at the chance (for them, it means siphoning business away from N. Falls and Detroit. In a town like Fort Erie, the bridge is the largest tax contributor, one of the largest employers and the gorilla everyone wants to keep happy).

Other reasons I favor International Railway Bridge:

- it allows truly inter-modal transportation (train to truck)

- it allows for more processing (warehousing, package forwarding) given the bigger footprint, and therefore bigger economic benefit

- it would eat up particularly ugly vacant industrial eyesores (from the River to Buff State) and replace sad neglect with state of the art transportation industrial activity and green space buffers in a badly run down, highly visible entrance to Buffalo

- the IRB is 50 years older than the Peace Bridge. It's one lane and used often. Seems like a replacement train bridge might be a good idea someday, and if one can take away all that truck traffic from Front Park, all the better.

soap box put away for the night . . .

whatever
whatever

A quick example -

Requiring use of Lewiston bridge by all trucks going between Canada and points south of Buffalo would require them to cross the Grand Island bridge on the 190.

That bridge gets very congested with sometimes long backups as it is now even without all that additional traffic.

Even without that additional congestion added to the G.I bridge, 30 minutes would be added per trip between say the Ford plant on Route 5 in Hamburg and its Oakville Ont assembly plant.

Do you think Higgins was lying in the following about the Ford plant on Route 5 a few miles south of Buffalo?

http://higgins.house.gov/legislation/policy-positions/peace-bridge-issue.shtml

"As an example, the Ford Stamping Plant in Woodlawn, New York cannot survive without on-time delivery of its product to its sister assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario."

Google maps says it takes 1:24:00 using the direct route now over Peace Bridge

http://goo.gl/maps/9lWZg

But would be a half hour longer per trip (1:53:00) going around Buffalo via 290 as you suggest should be mandatory, then across Grand Island via 190 to Lewiston

http://goo.gl/maps/4RWZ5

You guys don't think adding a minimum of 30 minutes per trip (very likely even longer than that if all Canada-bound trucks started using the 290 and upper 190 instead of the Peace Bridge) would make the Ford plant less economically viable?

For one example of many...

whatever
whatever

Do you acknowledge that requiring all those non-local trucks to drive around Buffalo/city would unquestionably reduce the city's # of jobs and its tax base?

And the region's too?

Or are you saying those losses would be real but outweighed by the positives?

Did Buffalo's leaders in the 1800s make a mistake in allowing the Erie Canal and the negative non-economic impacts it brought?

(dirty stagnant canal water, many tons of canal mule excrement, etc?)

And, PB aside, what would be accomplished by reducing the 190's speed limit to 40 mph?

whatever
whatever

BRL & LT - although it doesn't 'need to' attract more tourists to Buffalo, it's a fair question if anyone is arguing the W-house should've been left standing for economic reasons related to tourism.

I didn't say there aren't other possible reasons, just calling that one far fetched.

As a residence, if someone who wanted to live in it had proactively bought it back before the PBA did, then I might have supported their right to not be forced to sell the house to the PBA. The land it's on might be a different question, depending on the details. All hypothetical now since nobody bought/owned it for that purpose.

But questions for you guys about that, even as a hypothetical -

If the asthma danger is really high the closer a residence is to the Peace Bridge, wouldn't living that very close be a big risk?

So regardless of whether plaza expansion happens, isn't it good that nobody lacking that health risk info would still be living in the W-house just a few feet away and damaging their respiratory health?

Or maybe way back then the house still could've been moved to some other location.

Which raises another q...

When it's been so obvious for so many years/decades now (much slower than lightening, lol) that PB plaza expansion is intended pretty much unanimously by all of our elected officials here at all levels of govt, why did nobody offer to own & move the W-house to a different location instead of leaving it sit just a few feet from the PB plaza's current unexpanded footprint?

Was it already not movable in the 1990s when the PBA started buying houses on Busti?

If anyone truly felt all along that is has immeasurable value, and if there's many vacant parcels not near the PB to which it could've been moved back then, ... that wouldn't add up.

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

I attended a meeting tonight for another building facing demolition. The Erie Freight House is moving closer towards the rubble heap. Saw RaChaCha there. Can we get a discussion topic on this?

LouisTully
LouisTully

Why does "# of yearly tourists" need to have anything to do with determining a building's worth? A private residence restored draws zero tourists but contributes immeasurable worth to a community.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Interstate truck traffic could and should be diverted around the city on the 290. The 190 and Peace Bridge should be local trucking only and downgraded to 40 mph, that would be a start to making the city much more livable, attractive, healthy, and of course more valuable.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

The house in itself might not draw tourists but it was in a highly visible location and if restored would provide an attractive first impression. That might spark interest in seeing more of the architecture of Buffalo.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

They are politicians by nature and ignore the ugly truth sometimes. It is easier to make excuses and think of themselves as pragmatic rather than face a serious public health issue.

This is not just about a few blocks, air pollution migrates and impacts huge areas. It is difficult to quanify or measure so many just choose to ignore it and pretend there is no consequence. The evidence is clear and well documented, diesel truck traffic is a threat to public health and should not be concentrated in densely populated neighborhoods.

whatever
whatever

Historic can have a wide range of meanings, but was that house compellingly historic enough to by itself significantly boost the # of yearly tourists who decide to visit Buffalo?

whatever
whatever

BRL>"bring no benefit what so ever to the host community, there is no advantage to the neighborhood or city for that matter"

I realize that's your view.

What's your take about why people such as Higgins, Schumer, Cuomo, Brown, Masiello, Grisanti, Sean Ryan, and Poloncarz - to name a few - all have been so much in favor of the City of Buffalo continuing to host a bridge carrying cross-border long distance truck traffic?

That they're just all so unanimously wrong about it?

(that isn't impossible - they are all wrong sometimes)

Or are they looking at 'community' as the whole city/region rather than a few residential blocks closest to the bridge?

But you said none to the city either, so apparently that isn't it.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I won't wade into the he historic significance of the Wilkeson House as it pertains to past ownership but it certainly qualifies as historic. The house is a rare remaining example of a Civil War era brick Italianate mansion. The house is also relatively intact is feasible for restoration.

whatever
whatever

Interesting info.

Btw, I wasn't implying that NIMBYs can never have good reasons. Sometimes they do, sometimes not.

Anyhow, your side's viewpoint seems to have won.

Both the US-NYS-WNY-Buffalo decision makers and their counterparts in Canada-Ontario-Fort Erie were all in agreement (lacking only funding) to build an additional bridge near the Peace Bridge instead of at the IRR site in Black Rock.

BRL>"Traffic studies revealed the 190 could not absorb this increased traffic"

If so, then the 190 unless it could be widened would also have difficulty absorbing a similar amount of increased truck traffic between the Peace Bridge and Lewiston (if long distance trucking was banned on the PB) - just sayin...

(...and to think some people want to remove the 190 and pretend its near-capacity heavy car/truck traffic would just be absorbed without creating big congestion issues on other roads!)

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

One other important point, diesel truck bridges and plaza's bring no benefit what so ever to the host community, there is no advantage to the neighborhood or city for that matter.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

It was the entire rear section or one half of the building, certainly significant and certainly would have been a great loss if not for the hard work neighborhood residents and preservationists.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

As one of the neighborhood activists that researched and fought the Ambassador proposal I can provide some insight. I also live within sight of the crossing and know the area well. The major concern was air pollution, fine particulate is a well documented threat to health, not some NIMBY nuisance as some would claim. The proposed bridge and plaza would have enveloped the historic core of Black Rock in a cloud of diesel exhaust and also would migrate out to impact Buffalo State, Delaware Park and North Buffalo. The footprint of the plaza was much too large for the site and could not accomodate the volume of traffic resulting in a cartoonish tiered design. Traffic studies revealed the 190 could not absorb this increased traffic and the 198 interchange would be especially problematic.

There also was strong opposition from the Bridgeburg community in Fort Erie.

As for Ambassador and owner Matty Moroun, their reputation in Detroit/Winsdor is well known and was the subject of a very critical Forbes magazine article. Ambassador has a history of poor relations with neighbors, with regulatory agencies, and with government in general. Ambassador has dismantled neighborhoods one property at a time and has a history of sitting on property ignoring code violations until neighbors give up and leave. Ambassador has ignored building permit requirements, does not allow government engineers to inspect his bridge, and allows explosives, radioactive waste, and other toxic materials to cross his bridge in open defiance of Federal rules.

Finally, when our councilman went to Detroit to do a story on Ambassador he was told "in no uncertain terms to be wary of Moroun" and some residents were afraid to speak openly because "Moroun was a very vindictive man that plays by his own rules and operates with impunity.

grad94
grad94

question #1: as steel often says, who has ever tried to save everything?

question #2: given our vast expanses of urban prairie--excuse me--shovel-ready sites, where no one tried to save anything, where is all this growth and progress i keep hearing about?

whatever
whatever

The supposed historic quality of the Wilkeson house was that a grandson of one of Buffalo's early prominent leaders lived in it.

Not even that leader himself, the mayor credited with Erie Canal terminus being here - but a grandson many decades after the canal was built.

As if a lot of tourists would be drawn to Buffalo and that house for that reason.

I'd bet grandpa Mayor Wilkeson and his grandson Civil War Colonel Wilkeson whose house it was would both be on the pro-PB-expansion side of this controversy - both disagreeing with the "Wrecking Buffalo" opposition from WCPerspective, Tielman, etc.

The Erie Canal was in some ways like the huge commercial trucking highway of its time - huge public infrastructure for cost-effective fast transporting of private sector cargo over long distances passing through Buffalo.

The Peace Bridge and our highway network is a modern day successor of that canal.

Mayor Wilkeson's success in having the Erie Canal in Buffalo probably displaced some houses & buildings.

grad94
grad94

that's correct. an up & coming young councilmember named joel giambra joined the effort to rebuild it.

whatever
whatever

LT & jsmith - no, since houses need not be deteriorated for the legality of demolition by their owner (with City approval in the case of landmarks).

Consistent with Up's comment, the intent of buying them for demo couldn't possibly have been more clear.

What in the world would be any possible reason for a bi-natiional government agency to buy those houses if not to demolish?

Whether demo happened on the first day of ownership or over a decade later as happened doesn't change that.

Yeah, their lawyers used deteriorated conditions as one argument in court among several for denying further environmental review delays - but that was about just the timing, it doesn't affect the ultimate legal right to demolish even if the houses had been maintained.

So it's a red herring to claim that if the City had forced the PBA to maintain those 8 houses that they'd wouldn't have been demolished for the PB plaza expansion. The only difference would've been that their condition upon demo would've been better, and perhaps this judge might have allowed further delay.

But in the end, there's no law against the demo happening, and a very wide political consensus at all levels favoring PB efficiency improvements - long before Cuomo became gov or hired Hoyt.

whatever
whatever

Wow, Bini - you're an IMBY there surrounded by NIMBYs!

bini>"(and I live in Black Rock and am in the minority in supporting diverting truck traffic to a new bridge where the international railway bridge is..."

I still wonder what it was which made the Ambassador proposal always be so dead on arrival. Was it NIMBYs in Buffalo? Or some opposition on the Fort Erie side? Or just the concept of a private company owning a bridge here? Or did the Ambassador people just never make a serious effort for it to happen?

Their idea for a separate truck bridge in Buffalo & Fort Erie sounded good and much more practical than trying to limit long distance truck crossing over the Niagara to only Lewiston-Queenston.

But that idea was never even a contender. It still isn't too late for it to happen, although it seems as dead an idea as ever.

townline
townline

oh my goodness. stop it.

Up and coming
Up and coming

So, for one it wasn't the whole building, or out of need for a parking lot, as STEEL's original post may have you believe.

Up and coming
Up and coming

I take what STEEL says at face value and to me that would be mean 50 percent fact, 50 percent talking point rhetoric. His vague comments like, "it was said", or anything with "they" in it are more representations of a mans opinion/spin and less fact. So yes, when hearing something from STEEL and most other posters on here I ask for fact, no matter if their argument/opinion matchs my own or not.

LouisTully
LouisTully

You just automatically figure because someone has a dissenting perspective than your's that it must be faulty and need factual evidence. I don't have time to go to the Grosvenor and search through microfilm. So you could do the research yourself, or you could take the random comments. BRL concurred with the random blogger. Not enough? Sorry, champ.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I remember the fire well, took my 4 year old son to see it. The plan after the fire was to demolish the entire rear half of the building and salvage the part fronting on Connecticut. Neighborhood activists and preservationists led by Susan McCartney convinced the powers that be to rebuild.

Up and coming
Up and coming

"After the fire there were immediate calls for demolition of the remaining walls."

So, you read on a blog that a guy heard from a guy that there were calls for demo and you buy it, hook line and sinker? If that's the case I have some great beach front property I can sell you on the cheap. I'd like to see some actual evidence, minus randoms commentors on a blog.

DOC
DOC

So happy to see these degenerate structures demo'd. "allentownguy" is in accusatory mode anticipating that Hoyt will now start doling out cash to cover ripples. Unfortunately that's what has to happen to get progress in Buffalo due to an obstructionist perspective. Some of those structures may have been eligible for the Historic Register but NOBODY registered them or showed any money to develop them. YOU SIMPLY CANNOT SAVE EVERYTHING AND HAVE GROWTH AND PROGRESS AT THE SAME TIME: Some things have to go. Heck, even the pyramids are falling apart. Nothing lasts forever. Pick your battles wisely preservationists lest you lose sight of your mission and the respect of the community. Majority rules and majority says demo Busti. Sorry. You can't win' em all.

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

Ghetto to me is an impoverished area, abandoned homes, vacant lots, bottom of the barrel housing prices, houses in poor condition, and an area occupied predominantly by a minority group of people. That = ghetto like it or not.

Buffalo_Resurrection
Buffalo_Resurrection

Did anyone happen to document (photograph) the demolition of the Wilkeson's residence?

I would have welcomed the opportunity to survey the interior but was not allowed entry.

Not intentionally meaning to beat the proverbial dead horse to death but if demolition was unavoidable, why not soften the insult by allowing architectural salavage or deconstruction?

I know, moot point....

LouisTully
LouisTully

I think his point was that neglect was the strategy to achieve their aim - demolition - and if laws were enforced that would not be a possible course of action.

Yo Yeah
Yo Yeah

Actually, that area needs some love, but is certainly not ghetto as compared to other places in the city. Unless low income brown folks = ghetto to you...Since they rounded up the gangs things have really changed - its like night and day. And while the Hope VI project that created the Lakeview sprawling town homes completely neglected the surrounding neighborhood, there is nothing scary or intimidating about that public housing. It's very well maintained.

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