Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was in Buffalo today to announce progress on two long-awaited improvements to the Peace Bridge Corridor in Buffalo. The Peace Bridge Authority (PBA) will approve a $20 million project to renovate and expand the U.S. Customs Commercial Building. In addition, a preliminary agreement has been reached between New York State and the City of Buffalo regarding the transfer of a two-block portion of Busti Avenue.

“The progress we are making on the construction at the Peace Bridge Plaza here in Buffalo proves that government on all levels is working for New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are moving forward quickly on these necessary improvements so that we can create jobs and ease congestion for the many vehicles that travel through this busy international border crossing. I applaud Mayor Brown, Council President Fontana, and Council Member Rivera for their leadership on this momentous project.”

Final design of the U.S. Customs Commercial Building renovations will begin later this month and conclude by next spring. The construction bid process will take place in summer 2013. Construction will commence in fall 2013 and is anticipated to take 18-24 months. Various green design standards and energy-efficiency upgrades are planned for the $20 million project, including the installation of solar panels on the building’s roof area.

New York State and the City of Buffalo have also reached a preliminary agreement regarding the transfer of a two-block portion of Busti Avenue, between Vermont Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Located on the west side of Buffalo, this portion has long been considered for inclusion in plaza renovation efforts to allow for much more convenient and faster entry and exit for vehicles. The final sale price of Busti Avenue will be determined by appraisal. Busti Avenue will be purchased with state funds and ultimately transferred to the PBA for renovations to the U.S. Peace Bridge Plaza.

Mayor Brown and council members have agreed that all of the proceeds from the transfer of this land will be dedicated exclusively to improvements to the immediate neighborhood surrounding the Peace Bridge.

“The Governor’s continued advocacy for Peace Bridge corridor improvements is paying dividends today,” said Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority Chairman and Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt. “These two announcements are tremendously significant and demonstrate a new era of progress in addressing the chronic problem of Peace Bridge congestion.”

“Adding capacity and predictability at our border with Southern Ontario opens up a flood of economic opportunity for Western New York, said Congressman Brian Higgins. “Time and again Governor Cuomo pairs leadership and cooperation as a means to make things happen. For decades there has been talk of progress at the Peace Bridge, this Governor brings long-deserved and greatly needed action to the table.”