As mentioned here in late May, an unusual spat concerning administration of the Peace Bridge, which joins Buffalo, NY, to Fort Erie, Ontario, generated a fair bit of news coverage.
Rightly or wrongly, the conflict was cast as a fit of temper from an administration used to playing hard ball verses a neighbor’s standard preference for measured, negotiated compromise. Not necessarily a great example of constructive diplomacy, unless “I’m tough when it counts – just ask Canada!” is a winning campaign strategy.
Well, according to multiple press accounts this week, the hatchet is now buried.
Local coverage is often the most detailed, so readers who want more may want to read this coverage from the Buffalo News by Robert J, McCarthy and Tom Precious which includes video from the press conference. The news in this case was that peace would prevail.
Other than a traffic study, the agreement does not include any new project, but it does solidify projects already approved by the Peace Bridge Authority and calls for them to proceed simultaneously.
According to the New York Times (Wed 6/26):
“A bridge only works when it works on both ends, and that’s basically the metaphor for today,” Mr. Cuomo said. “The Peace Bridge works best when it works for Canada and when it works for Buffalo.”
Mr. Cuomo also pledged not to sign legislation, approved last week by the New York Legislature, aimed at dissolving the Peace Bridge authority.
The crucial crossing is jointly administered by the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority. As reported by Lee-Anne Goodman for the Canadian Press and Associated Press, the agreement came after months of public rancor between the two sides. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Gary Doer, the Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., shook hands at the announcement of the new agreement:
“It’s called the Peace Bridge, it’s not called the Conflict Bridge,” Doer said in an interview from Buffalo following the announcement. “This is a good deal for hard hats, not lawyers.”
Doer was referring to the New York state legislation that calls for banning the Peace Bridge Authority outright. The ambassador had warned Cuomo that Canada would do whatever necessary to “protect our sovereignty” in the event the bill was signed into law, including going to court.
Was the fight about money, development planning or basic control? Opinions vary.
Here is one analysis of the particulars by Jim Heaney of the Investigative Post, which says “We tell the stories that need to be told about the skulduggery and dysfunction that pervades Buffalo and WNY.”
In the interest of balance I looked for press releases on this topic from the Peace Bridge Authority and Gov. Cuomo’s website but have found none as of this writing.
At least one Buffalo News reader was unimpressed. ByTheNumbers commented:
Let me see… I think I have this straight. Cuomo claims that his threats and BS brought about this ‘agreement’. And this agreement does what?? It says that the Authority will do exactly what they had planned to do before all this BS started. Good job!! We are now where we were before it all started. Progress…Cuomo style.
Was the fuss justified? Did it produce any positive developments? At least it seems to be over for now!