By Jeff Preval WGRZ
BUFFALO, NY – You would think that honoring the victims of 9/11 with a tribute wouldn’t cause controversy. But that hasn’t been the case when it comes to the efforts to rename a bridge in Buffalo after those who were lost.
For the past decade, mourners have gathered at a pedestrian bridge on the anniversary of 9/11 to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks. The bridge is between Delaware and Elmwood Avenues, crossing over the Scajaquada Expressway.
For the past three years, Laurie Kostrzewski of Buffalo has been trying to get the bridge renamed to honor those who died and were innocent.
She started with petitions, which got the attention of state lawmakers.
“Last year, when the bridge did not have the name on it, who asked me about it were the firefighters and they were extremely disappointed,” she said.
Many residents and first responders want the bridge to be renamed the “Scajaquada 9/11 Memorial Bridge.” But there’s a problem — this change has been stalled in the state legislature.
“We’d like to see it at least come up for a vote, we don’t see much controversy in the bridge name or this piece of legislation, it’s something particular to Western New York, it’s Western New York specific,” Doug Curella, chief of staff of Sen. Mark Grisanti’s office.
A Senate bill, sponsored by Grisanti to rename the pedestrian bridge has passed three years in a row. The most recent time was last month, with bipartisan support.
But, a similar bill in the Assembly hasn’t been brought up for a single vote. The sponsor of the Assembly bill is Assemblymember Sean Ryan who says a state study to redesign the 198 complicates the sign change.
In a statement, Ryan says “the future of the bridge remains in question. The last thing I want to see is the bridge being named to honor those lost on 9/11, only to have the bridge removed shortly after.”
But for years the state has been studying the 198 corridor. And for Kostrzewski, this reason is unacceptable.
“I don’t see that as a reason, I see it as an excuse,” she said.
Three years ago, Grisanti proposed renaming the pedestrian bridge the 9/11 memorial bridge. But, downstate lawmakers objected saying that name would be more appropriate for a bridge near New York City.
So the change was made to add “Scajaquada” to the name, but this still hasn’t passed the Assembly.
If the Assembly fails to act on renaming the bridge this legislative session, which ends in June, then the bill would need to be voted on again next year. That would mean another 9/11 anniversary would pass without the bridge renamed.