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Buffalo in the News

chertoffThe New York Times featured another article by Nicolai Ouroussoff, pointing to Buffalo as perhaps “the most intriguing test case for reimagining our failing cities.” Ouroussoff laments the Department of Homeland Security plan that “would require the demolition of five and a half blocks in a diverse working-class neighborhood with a rich architectural history, from late-19th-century Italianate mansions to modest two-family homes built in the 1920s.”

Meanwhile, yesterday’s Buffalo News ran a story quoting Clarence Republican Chris Lee on the issue: “We’re beating a dead horse here,” he said. “We need to focus on the project at hand, which is to get a new Peace Bridge built.” Buffalo Democrat Brian Higgins also chimes in on the issue: “Western New York residents and businesses are sick of studies and setbacks, they just want to see a bridge built. This is a move in the wrong direction.”

Meanwhile, Representative Louise Slaughter says, “Shared border management not only presents the best possible solution to the security and legal issues facing a new Peace Bridge plaza, but also prevents the residents of the historic Peace Bridge neighborhood from being displaced.”

Which begs the question: Is Louise Slaughter the only local politician who reads the New York Times?

  • I wish people would use the phrase “begs the question” correctly. Either that, or retire it, which would be fine too.

  • Buck Quigley


    Sorry. Please tell me how you were taught to use the phrase “begs the question”? Once you teach me how to use it, I will retire it.


    P.S. So what do you think about the Peace Bridge?

  • Michael Herbold

    Regarding Brian Higgins’comments: “This would bring us right back to where we were two years ago when shared border management was deemed to be dead,” said Congressman Higgins. “Western New York residents and businesses are sick of studies and setbacks, they just want to see a bridge built that is both functional as well as architecturally substantial. This is a move in the wrong direction.”

    Why don’t we put this love canal on wheels in your front yard? Would your family enjoy breathing diesel 24-7? Increased respiratory illness,asthma, heart disease,blood clots and cancer? These are the benefits provided by the Peace Bridge to the residents in our zip code. The residents of the Prospect Hill neighborhood see your efforts to burnish your resume at our expense for what it is- expediency & careerism.


    Michael Herbold
    85 Rhode Island St.
    Buffalo, NY 14213

  • Kathy

    Why are Members of Congress Divided on the Border Issue?

    The boys and girls in government continue to bicker over the best border crossing.

    Sec. of State Hilary Clinton and Rep. Louise Slaughter say shared border management is “the best possible solution.”

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is willing to reconsider and recently “discussed the issue” with Canadian Public Safety minister Peter Van Loan.

    But Reps. Brian Higgins and Chris Lee and Senator Chuck Schumer warn–with idiomatic alarm–“We’re beating a dead horse here,” and “It takes two to tango,” (implying Canada’s to blame when it was the U.S. that abruptly ended negotiations).

    Are setbacks and further delays really what the Washington “boys” fear? Or is it the glory they’ll miss and the votes they’ll lose if they can’t take credit for another public works project:

    Dear Congressman Higgins (and all of his ilk): Guess you missed it! The NY Times ran a second major story featuring Buffalo on Sunday, March 29, 2009. The quotes below were written by Nicholai Ouroussoff, Reinventing America’s Cities: The Time is now.

    “…perhaps the most intriguing test case for reimagining our failing cities is Buffalo, where the federal government is pressing ahead with a plan to expand its border crossing facilities.”

    Ouroussoff continues to describe how Buffalo’s waterfront, Olmsted Parks and downtown core were “sliced through” by elevated expressways, “because we embraced large scale transportaion projects of the 1950’s” that cut the city off from the riverfront leaving many of “downtown’s once-proud buildings” abandonded. “The city was once a center of architectural experimentation, with landmarks by virtually every great American architect of the late 19th and early 20th century.”

    “Yet rather than reverse that trend, the government now seems determined to accelerate it.”

    Congressman Higgins, Mr. Ouroussoff would like to know why you would embrace another transportation project that would repeat the mistakes of the 1950’s;
    “The problem in America is not bad ideas, but bad execution; a tendency to combine any large-scale government construction project, no matter how thoughtful, with the most brutal urban renewal tactics of the 1950’s. The result is that pioneering projects, ones that skillfully blend basic infrastructure with broader urban needs like housing and green space, are usually killed at birth.”

    Telling the public Congressman Higgins, that Shared Border Management is moving Buffalo in the wrong direction kills a vision for this city to create sustainable communities enriched not destroyed by transportation projects (European nations successfully conquered this concept decades ago).

    Thankfully, Ms. Slaughter, Ms. Napolitano, and Ms. Clinton choose to be visionaries. We are heartened by their wisdom to put the brakes on an ill-advised massive transportation project that would represent the single-largest regional infrastructure project here in over 50 years. A project that will impact WNY for the next 100 years.

    So what’s the rush Congreeman? Wouldn’t it be prudent in these tough economic times to support an independent third-party cost benefit analysis other project alternatives; Shared Border Management, a private bridge built by the Ambassador Niagara Signature Bridge Group at the International Railroad Crossing and a multi-modal transportation facility that moves freight via water, trains, planes and trucks or a no build alternative. Why even entertain a no build? Because no current studies other than the Public Bridge Authority have been conducted to determine if there is a regional need to expand the crossing between Buffalo and Fort Erie.

    Truck and car traffic usage has declined at the peace bridge for over 2 1/2 years. While commercial traffic crossing at Lewiston Queenston and Rainbow bridges has increased. It’s no secret that all three bridge commissions are in competition with one another to attract and increase the commercial traffic at their crossings. That’s how the big bucks are made.

    The public understands that trucks, trains, planes and ships can navigate independent of each other by utilizing multiple crossings at different locations. It is the Public Bridge Authority that insists the new expansion is neccessary and that it must be located next to the existing peace bridge plaza.

    Why would you continue to push just one alternative that can only truck goods? A US plaza will involve massive state and federal spending. This is a very complex, multi-phased infrastructure project that involves much more than the public has been made aware of. I would like to know how you and Rep. Lee plan on securing the $630 million or more dollars it will take to see this project through completion 8-10 years from now.

    How could we sqaunder precious resources of any kind in these tough economic times?

    What would be the point of irrevocably destroying 5 1/2 blocks of a working-class diverse community, increase the adverse health risks of an already sick population and pollute the environmental footprint of an entire urban district with diesel emissions if you cannot demonstrate how the project will be funded long term?

    What about the future of taxpaying residents and voters who will be forced to live surrounded by a concrete jungle of tractor trailer trucks 24/7 (and the largest Duty Free store in North America). These are the very citizens that you are asking to sacrifice their health and life style in exchange for $69 million in US taxpayer funded construction work.

    Essentially Congressman Higgins, you are asking this community of taxpaying homeowners to pay for the demolition of their neighborhoods and live with the devaluation of their property, so that you can create new jobs for the trade unions! Without requiring an independent economic job creation analysis!

    New union jobs equals union votes. Demoliton of more than 100 homes and historic properties, damage to human and environmental health, increased air pollution, loss of more than 300 mature trees, acres of green space replaced by concrete and trucks equals the creation of a Love Canal on Wheels. A legacy Congressman Higgins seems willing to leave behind.

  • John Q Blogger

    An average six cylinder car produces approximately ten tons of carbon pollution a year. Think before we allow any representative to build a horizontal smoke stack system that feeds directly into the adjacent West Side neighborhoods to the west, north, and south of the Peace Bridge.

    Let’ make this comparison. Ask West Side residents about the stench in the summer that comes from the nearby Buffalo Sewer Authority located to the north of the Peace Bridge. Now imagine that sewage processing area in Buffalo being expanded to take more sewage from across North America. Again the air would be severely violated in that neighborhood east of the sewer authority. The stink would plume over that neighborhood like the Peace Bridge truck and auto pollution will plume over the entire West Side.

    Oh sure an expanded sewage processing plant would create more jobs for a short term but the surrounding community would be appreciable negatively impacted. The pollution is not going to be hypothetical but significant harmful.

    The New York Times article was pin point in it’s accuracy. Manifest destiny Higgins is talking like Robert “Destructo” Moses. We cannot allow the 1950’s mistakes and politics of the past to harm the health of citizens, parks, and neighborhoods on Buffalo’s West Side.

    The Peace Bridge is located on high ground on the West Side. To expand the plaza over towards Niagara Street places this proposed project above the slope that runs downward and east of the Peace Bridge. These truck and car pollutants that are higher in density will stream eastward and plume down that slope and into other parts of the West Side of Buffalo. This Peace Bridge expansion issue involves more than the Prospect Hill neighborhood but a greater sized area which is far more densely populated. This ups the anti of the negative health impact.

    Haste makes waste.

    Killing citizens with pollution has been in the news in this area for a long time. People stood up at Love Canal. They stood up at Hickory Woods. Look at what expediency has brought us.

    The next Lois Gibbs is going to rise up on the West Side.

  • Liz

    A multi modal facility is what is needed to bring long term jobs to our area and create real economic growth. Brian Higgins has been closed minded on getting “his” bridge built since day one. He has no vision for Buffalo, only for ways to have his name on a project. He doesn’t care about Buffalo’s West Side, the health of the children of the West Side or the residents living here. If you don’t have the health facts, set up an appointment with Dr. Mukasa. He will surely educate you. Higgins has refused to look at the big picture and has little regard for a community of people who want to live in and build a better Buffalo. He dismisses the rich history of the West Side and what many of our family ancestors have contributed to Buffalo’s past. He was happy to knock on our doors when he wanted our votes, but refused to meet in our community to see what he would destroy! I am sure he would be singing a different tune if a project were to impact his precious South Buffalo community.
    He says he doesn’t want to waste time by further studies delaying a project, but his endorsed proposal will delay anything from happening because of the many law suits that will be filed. People are sick and tired of government leaders dictating projects for the benefit of their self interest and resume.
    It is NOT going to happen your way Brian. We believe in a better Buffalo and are determined to make sure the right project, if any, moves forward. Get used to it! The sooner you start listening and supporting what is right, the sooner something will “get done”.

  • Kathy

    What constituency does Mr. Higgins represent? Canadian you say? Who knew that our American Congressman moonlights as the PBA cheerleader for Southern Ontario! I never would have guessed that Southern Ontario is going to bailout the economic woes of Western New York. That’s right US citizens. Southern Ontario is the new kid on the block – 300% growth – and it sounds like, according to Mr. Higgins, that our friends just over the border managed to dodge the financial crisis the rest of the world is struggling with. They can’t wait to spend their disposable cash at the Galleria, D’Youville College, and most important….Holiday Valley.

    Mr. Higgins claims that Canadian travelers will even grow our airline business. Now that’s a new revelation (how strong is the dollar???).

    So let’s just stop this nonsense and build that bridge, knock down those houses, rip out the trees, destroy a cohesive community, and erase whatever history is left in Higgins congressional district where human health and human life is valued less than a sale at the mall. Our Canadian friends are knocking down the gates to Nervana….bursting at the seam, itching to spend, spend, spend. BUILD US A BRIDGE…BUILD US A BRIDGE!

    Brian Higgins knows what he’s talkin’ about; politically savvy, politically confident and evidently, politically connected.

    Thought he was a tad condescending toward Rep. Louise Slaughter and Homeland Security Chief Napolitano. The girls are just being “courteous”…Senator Clinton’s study on Shared Border Management was a waste of time, “bring me something new” says Higgins; Congresswoman Slaughter is just making busy work by rehasing old business; and Ms. Napolitano is kissing up to the President, and meeting with Canadian heads of government because she’s new at this gig and wants to be Polly Politely.

    But before Brian builds his Signature Gateway to FORT ERIE…..he needs to tell us how he is going to pay for it. Who will be footing the bill for a $630 million dollar 10 year project? It won’t be the Canadian shoppers, Canadian students or Canadian skiers. Don’t think Southwest Airline is interested in the bridge building business either.

    It’s not the Canadian Government. The US taxpayers foot the bill on this baby (resist the political double-talk from Higgins. His numbers don’t add up).

    It’s certainly not the Public Bridge Authority. They send the bill to the GSA, FHWA and you pay the rest (speaking of double-talk…you have to hear how Ron Rienas, GM for the bridge authority explains the funding).

    The only way the Bridge Authority generates money is to:

    1. Turn up the volume of trucks crossing at the peace bridge. They don’t make their money from cars.

    2. Build a mega Duty Free Store that will triple current profits. The Duty Free is privately owned and they pay millions of dollars in rent to the bridge authority. Selling booze is big business at bridge crossings. The bridge authority gets a cut of those profits too.

    The Niagara region has had for decades three bridge crossings between the US and Canada. Consumers from Canada have always crossed freely into the United States.

    The international trade has not significantly impacted our economy ever for the obvious reason: We do not have the right economic infrastructure in place. We are a pass through for other regions. A tractor trailer doormat for millions of trucks trafficking their goods from the QEW to the 90 south.

    If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck…it ain’t the golden parachute Higgins is trying to sell.

    Mr. Higgins will never answer the money questions because he can’t. Instead, he continues to play his shell game with the public by hedging his bet hoping he is pushing the right buttons in Washington. All that talk about the Record of Decision, the Environmental Impact Study, Homeland Security, ROD, DEIS, EIS, DHS, NEPA, GSA, GOA, GPA, PBA, EPA…….it’s nothin’ but smoke and mirrors. Been there. Done that.

    We did the ‘impossible’ and elected the first African American President in the history of this nation. Yet, Mr. Higgins doesn’t think anything has changed inside Washington. It’s business as usual. That speaks volumes about Higgins. Wish I could ask Bernie Madoff to give him a call.

  • jpw

    Citiziens for Regional Transit has been touting an Airport Corridor for decades, and this track vector (vs. one from, say, Court Street) makes sense.

    Little known fact: the blueprints for the current airport terminal and frontage had clear positioning of Metro Rail tracks. Now, of course, it’s all likely paid parking. . . .

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