Click on the headings below to learn more about Air Quality Planning

+ GBNRTC Air Quality Status

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) promulgated the 2008 B-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAOS) on May 21, 2012 to be effective on July 20, 2012 classifying the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan statistical area as in attainment for the 2008 ozone standard. The USEPA also promulgated a new rule on July 20, 2012 revoking the transportation conformity requirements for 1997 8-Hour Ozone NAAQS effective on July 20, 2013. As a result, the GBNRTC will not be required to make a transportation conformity determination under the new 2008 8-Hour Ozone NAAQS.

With the GBNRTC being in attainment for ozone after July 20, 2013, the MPO will no longer be eligible for a direct allocation of Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds after Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2014. For Region 5, only Chautauqua County will be a direct recipient of CMAQ funds. NYSDOT has the discretion to allocate CMAQ funds to any region in New York State that promotes emission reductions and supports the State Implementation Plan (SIP) to achieve National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Proposals are evaluated on a project-by-project basis. The loss of CMAQ funds has renewed efforts to expedite all CMAQ-funded projects in the region so all monies are obligated before the end of FFY 2014.

+ GBNRTC Air Quality Efforts

The ability of our transportation system to provide for and maintain the efficient movement of people and freight is important to the continuing economic health of the region and the nation. Domestic freight tonnage is anticipated to approximately double – and international freight tonnage expected to nearly triple – by 2035. This has led to a growing need to find new ways to address air quality concerns and greenhouse gas emissions associated with freight movements.

A wide range of strategies is available to mitigate these freight and air quality challenges, ranging from technological strategies such as engine retrofits and alternative fuels, to operations strategies such as congestion mitigation and idling reduction. The GBNRTC is currently working on and supports several freight initiatives to improve air quality in the region.

NY Gateway Connections Improvement Project

Engaged in the NY Gateway Connections Improvement Project for the Peace Bridge and surrounding neighborhoods. The purpose of the project is to reduce the use of the local streets by interstate traffic and provide access to the existing Plaza at its current location. The "Draft Environmental Impact Statement" (DEIS) has been released by NYSDOT for review and describes the proposed design alternatives and examines the potential environmental (CO, particulate, greenhouse, MSAT) effects that may result from the action, and where adverse impacts are identified, it discusses measures to mitigate those effects.

Peace Bridge Pre-Clearance Pilot Program

Support of the Peace Bridge Pre-Clearance Pilot Program that allows U.S. customs officers stationed in Canada to pre-inspect trucks entering the United States. The project uses advanced technologies to access additional databases to reduce truck wait times (and idling) during inspection. If the pilot is successful, it could mean the number of commercial inspection booths will increase from seven currently on the U.S. side to 12 on the Canadian side.

US EPA's 'Smart Way'

Promote and encourage trucking companies to participate in the US EPA's Smart Way transport partnership for long haul trucks to mitigate diesel emissions.

Spare the Air

Continue to support Peace Bridge's Spare the Air idle reduction efforts to help reduce the organization’s environmental imprint, while providing a more sustainable border crossing for local residents and travelers.

Diesel Retrofit & Alternative Fuel Vehicle Incentives and Grant Opportunities

Announce diesel retrofit and alternative fuel vehicle incentives and grant opportunities as they become available. These programs provide financial assistance (grants/low interest loans) to trucking, shipping and rail operators for retrofitting existing (older) diesel engines to clean diesel standards to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy.

Portage Bridge Replacement Project

Support of the Portage Bridge Replacement Project. This project will replace an obsolete and unsafe rail bridge that crosses the Genesee River in Portage NY. Once completed, the bridge will allow Norfolk Southern to increase Intermodal freight to and from PANYNY along their Southern Tier route. One of the major impacts of this project will be the reduction of equivalent trucks traveling the route. The project will also increase competition along the route with CSX, reducing costs and furthering the modal shift from trucking to rail.

International Rail Bridge

Support the study of the International Rail Bridge which connects Buffalo and Fort Erie. This single span is the sole rail freight connection between Western NY and Canada. Options will include addressing redundancy, allowing higher weights and allowing for double-stacked intermodal cars. The current bridge is old and has size and weight limitations. Permitting double-stacked Intermodal trains may allow Canadian railroads to unload their goods in the USA as opposed to the current system of unloading in Ontario and trucking (draying) across the Peace Bridge. This modal shift could result in substantially less idling - improving air quality.

CP Draw Bridge

Support the study of the current and future rail traffic crossing the CP Draw Bridge which crosses the Buffalo River. Substantial idling (with resulting air pollution), wastes fuel and adds to travel times. Options may include constructing a twin span to relieve congestion, delays and train idling.

Port of Buffalo/Marine Highway

Promote an expansion of operations at the Port of Buffalo and utilize the Marine Highway to transport goods between US/Canadian/European marine ports including initiating Great Lakes Container service. Marine shipping is the cleanest, safest and most efficient way to move goods.