Peace Bridge Policy Seeks Cleaner Air

August 30, 2012 Updated Aug 30, 2012 at 7:19 PM EDT

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August 30, 2012 Updated Aug 30, 2012 at 7:19 PM EDT


Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - A new policy at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo is supposed to make the air cleaner, but the policy is raising some questions.

The Peace Bridge Authority has made a new rule -- cars and trucks can not idle at all at the Peace Bridge Plaza.

This includes the secondary inspection area after crossing into the United States and the parking lot by the Duty Free.

Lawmakers say sometimes trucks put their cars in park to relax while waiting for inspections, and often patrons leave cars running while making purchases at Duty Free.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) explains to enforce the rule, "there will be no idling signs all over. Peace Bridge employees will be reminding people as they go into the Duty Free or go towards inspection lanes you're in a no idling zone.

Many believe pollution from idling cars is hurting the quality of life for nearby residents.

Council Member David Rivera explains "respiratory illnesses, asthma, their property value decreasing and mostly health concerns near and around the Peace Bridge" worry residents.

Elizabeth Martina says she was recently diagnosed with asthma. Her kids, friends and neighbors also suffer from respiratory illnesses.

Martina tells Eyewitness News "I missed many days of work due to upper respiratory infections and you just worry about the long term health affects for you and your family."

She and lawmakers add there are also concerns about what is described as "clusters of cancer" in neighborhoods near the Peace Bridge.

However, Martina and other residents say the new rule is not enough. She says "they've been promising a solution for a long time, but we haven't seen any evidence."

Martina believes the best solution is moving trucks traveling from Canada to the United States to another port of entry -- one not near so many residential homes.

They also worry turning vehicles on and off will make the situation worse than leaving cars and trucks idling.

However, the Peace Bridge Authority and local lawmakers said they hope this will do a little bit to help while they look for other solutions to help congestion, because "there's health issues and asthma and all other factors related to idling trucks, then doing nothing is not part of the solution.""

The Peace Bridge Authority is not imposing a penalty for breaking this rule. However, if the public does not abide, the PBA says they will seek a state law imposing a fine for those who idle their vehicles close to the Peace Bridge.

However, some nearby residents say that is not enough. Concerned residents believe they need to fix the long lines coming from Canada into the United States.