Located in Cheektowaga, New York, the Thruway Plaza opened in 1952, and it was one of the earliest post-war shopping centers in the Buffalo region. The shopping center was originally built for $7 million dollars and consisted of 300,000 square feet. The Thruway Plaza was initially built as an open-air, strip style complex and included Sears, Lerner Shops, Kleinhans, W.T. Grant, as well as Nu-Way Supermarket and AM&A’s. In 1977, the plaza was enclosed, enlarged and renamed, The Thruway Mall. Several out structures were also added, including Super Duper Supermarket, Child World and a three screen cinema. In 1989, the Walden Galleria mall opened, which lead to the foreclosure of the Thruway Mall. A large portion of the mall was demolished and the new complex became known as the Thruway Plaza, the original name of the shopping center. The redesigned Plaza is presently open and includes new tenants.
Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos was commonly incorporated into building materials, such as fireproofing, joint compound (mud), floor and ceiling tiles, as well as other materials. Workers, who applied, removed or maintained asbestos-containing materials are at risk for developing mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Fireproof insulation was applied to the structural steel at the Thruway Plaza in order to protect the steel from potential fire damage. Asbestos was commonly incorporated into fireproofing materials because of its resistance to fire. Fireproofing material was mixed with water and sprayed onto the steel. This process emitted dust clouds, which contained asbestos. Most workers were not aware of the dangers of exposure to asbestos dust and performed their work without masks or protective gear.
Asbestos was incorporated in drywall joint compound (mud) up until the late 1970’s. This material was manufactured as a dry powder, and it was mixed with water to form a paste. During the construction of Thruway Plaza, workers applied three coats of asbestos-containing dry mix joint compound to the seams between sheets of drywall. After one coat of joint compound dried, it was sanded before the next coat was applied. During both the mixing and sanding processes of asbestos-containing joint compound, dust and fibers were released into the air, putting not only laborers at risk for exposure, but others who worked in the surrounding vicinity.
Contractors throughout the Western New York Area employed union and non-union laborers who worked on construction projects, such as the Thruway Plaza. If you or a loved one were once employed in connection with the construction or maintenance of the Thruway Plaza and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.