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Sen. Charles E. Schumer on Tuesday urged Gov. George E. Pataki to replace Peace Bridge Authority Chairman Victor A. Martucci with a member of the Public Consensus Review Panel.

With industrialist Randy Marx and Sister Denise A. Roche, president of D'Youville College, as co-chairmen, the citizens panel has been reviewing proposals by various entities to expand the Peace Bridge's capacity for handling traffic.

The group includes dedicated opponents of the authority's proposal to twin the existing steel structure. Among them are representatives of organizations that have successfully sued to block the twinning proposal.

Martucci intends to resign this month to devote more time to his family and business.

Appointments to the authority have increasingly become part of a governor's political patronage, and the odds that the Republican governor will heed the advice of a Democratic senator are considered long. Schumer's office said it had no information that the senator discussed his letter with the governor before he sent it Tuesday.

"We never discuss appointments before they are made," said Pataki spokeswoman Melissa Carlson.

The governor names four out of five of the U.S. members. The fifth, according to state law, must be a representative of the state attorney general, though under former Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco, that slot became a patronage job.

Five Canadian members are appointed by that country's minister of transport.

"It is crucial that you bridge the gap that will be left by Martucci's departure by choosing a replacement who will keep the project moving steadily towards completion," the senator wrote, adding that the citizen panel has "an important role in moving this process out of gridlock."

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