TONAWANDA, N.Y.- Earlier this week, some eye-opening and frightening numbers were released by the State Department of Health regarding elevated cancer rates in the areas surrounding Tonawanda's industrial core. Well the Town of Tonawanda is using the same stats the health department used to try and crack down on what the numbers indicate is among the biggest polluters, the Grand Island toll barrier.
It is actually a combination of the highway design, a convergence of the I-190 and I- 290 and then the toll barrier which often acts as a bottle neck. Town of Tonawanda engineer Jim Jones says that the so-called mobile source component, or traffic, accounts for around 30 percent of the pollution. The Town is involved in an effort called E3, which stands for Economy, Energy Environment. It is a coalition of government and community agencies in an effort to combine resources for a sustainable and environmentally sound future. Jones has met with the Thruway Authority, DEC, Clean Air Coalition and other groups to discuss options. The options on the table include, removing the tolls, moving the tolls and even the possibility of installing totally automated electronic toll readers.
Thruway Authority spokesman Dan Weiler told WGRZ that they have met with the town and several options are on the table, including the automated toll system. But he cautioned that there are expenses associated with many of the ideas.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Grand Island bridges generate 18-point-3 million dollars in revenue every year, revenue that would have to be replaced in any plan that is decided upon.