Bipartisan bill would do away with "dysfunctional" PBA; under state rules, management of The Peace Bridge would be transferred to the NFTA
Today, New York State Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-I-Buffalo, and New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-WF-Buffalo, announced they will be introducing bipartisan legislation to dissolve the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority - the PBA. Under current state law, if the authority is dissolved, management of the Peace Bridge will transfer over to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
The elected leaders said it has become clear the PBA is no longer a functioning body. Grisanti and Ryan are putting forth a new plan that will transfer management of the Peace Bridge to the NFTA, an entity that is specifically structured to operate transportation assets. The NFTA would create a new entity to operate the Peace Bridge, in a similar manner to the structure of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates surface transportation as well as a tunnel authority.
In addition, under state law, the PBA was never meant to exist in perpetuity. The law states the PBA would cease to exist in 2020, or when its bonds are paid off, whichever is longer. Grisanti and Ryan said that the public should not wait until all bonds are paid off to dissolve the "dysfunctional" PBA.
"Public Authorities are too often arrogant, unaccountable and lack transparency. The PBA is all of the above and it is time that we shut down this dysfunctional authority. The people of Western New York deserve better," Grisanti said.
"It has become clear that the PBA is no longer a functioning body, and should be dissolved," Ryan said. "It is time for a productive solution that will allow the NFTA to manage the Peace Bridge, something that fits within their core mission of administering public transportation."
State Sen. George Maziarz, R-I-C-Newfane, also supports the dissolution of the PBA.
"I am extremely concerned over the current situation at the PBA," Maziarz said. "New York state, under the leadership of Gov. Cuomo, has shown its dedication to improving the U.S. plaza of the Peace Bridge. The lack of cooperation and respect from the Canadian members is very disappointing, especially considering the continued support by the U.S. of the Canadian projects over the years. Action needs to be taken in order to allow for U.S. progress to continue. The inability of the general manager to provide a functioning board nor one that adequately and fairly represents all members of interest is of great concern. Therefore, I join my colleagues in calling for the dissolution of the PBA. The Peace Bridge greets tens of thousands of visitors each year, and the state is and will continue to do everything it can to ensure all are greeted with the best possible facilities and service."