Letter to the Editor of the Grand Island Dispatch


“Schimminger’s Folly” 

Once again our misguided State Assemblymen have been blinded by their own personal ambitions.  Robin Schimminger is advocating the construction of a bridge that will traverse the widest part of the Niagara River between Tonawanda and Canada.  His intentions make it clear that the environment that defines the quality of life in and around Grand Island will sacrificed in the name of this ill conceived plan to shuttle truck traffic through Tonawanda, so he and his constituents can harvest the benefits. 

More surprising is the endorsement of this plan by our own State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt.  This is the person who supposedly looks out for the interests of Grand Island. Yet, his actions demonstrate that our welfare is not high on his list of priorities.  Mr. Hoyt flatly stated in a letter to the Dispatch that he opposes bridges or truck plazas on Grand Island.  In that same letter he endorsed the Tonawanda crossing dismissing the environmental impacts with a halfhearted proposal to build a tunnel. 

Not surprisingly, neither of these individuals have researched the true costs of this pipe dream.  First of all, a tunnel in today’s dollars at the Tonawanda location will conservatively cost 1.3 billion dollars.  Funding this white elephant with Federal and State tax dollars at a time when this country is fighting a war against terrorism and in the midst of our long-standing economic crisis is absolutely foolish.  

The impacts of this folly now get a little clearer as the long bridge crossing becomes the fall back position with a price tag of 750 million dollars.  Neither the bridge or tunnel options have viability without improvements to the established transportation infrastructure. Its not surprising that this detail has been conveniently overlooked by these two esteemed Assemblymen.  For example, Route 190 will have to be widened to three lanes in each direction.  This plan will require the filling of a strip of the Niagara River at least 500 feet wide for about 1.5 miles resulting in the added loss of 100 acres of shallow water habitat.  This is but one of many such improvements that will be needed.  The combined cost of will easily eclipse the multi-billion dollar level. 

Confronted with this magnitude of cost where would the project advocates go next?  Certainly, the priority will be to find a lower cost alternative. The obvious target is Grand Island with its extensive vacant land and miles of narrow river corridor. The bridge and truck plaza will turn Grand Island into a wasteland of truck terminals, pavement, warehouses and traffic congestion. Thanks, Mr. Hoyt for looking out for our interests. 

Grand Islanders, you can stop this lunacy.  Please come to the last public workshop on the Peace Bridge expansion project on Saturday, December 7th at the studios of WNED.  Vote down Schimminger’s folly and preserve Grand Island’s quality of life. 

                                                                                                Paul Leuchner