Friday traffic stresses bridges over Niagara Falls
The Rainbow Bridge, the closest international crossing to Nik Wallenda's tightrope walk across the Niagara River gorge Friday, will be open to vehicular and pedestrian traffic as usual, but cannot be used as a viewing platform.
Pedestrians will not be able to use the bridge, one of three operated by the binational Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, as an observation deck. Increased security will move foot and motorized traffic across the bridge at their usual paces.
The commission is warning of heavy traffic and an exceptionally large turnout of people for the historic event Friday evening. Even though the actual tightrope walk is not until 10:20 p.m., people should cross well in advance to avoid backups.
"While we want to maintain 'business as usual' on the Rainbow, and all our bridges Friday night into early Saturday, we must make sure that people understand they cannot use the bridge as an observation platform. All traffic must keep moving across the bridge," said NFBC General Manager Lew Holloway.
Engineers know the bridge's load limits and, while the structure can easily handle wall-to-wall people and cars, safety comes first and no overcrowding of the bridge will be permitted, he said, especially during the walk.
Pedestrians may technically walk halfway out onto the bridge and return to the same side they left, but authorities are discouraging that. And any pedestrians returning to either side after walking on the bridge will have to meet immigration requirements, even if they did not cross into another country.
All regular crossing rules apply in all cases. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, a U.S. law, requires all travelers to the U.S. to present a valid passport or another approved secure document at the border. Acceptable forms of identification for both U.S. re-entry and entry into Canada that also meet the requirements of the WHTI include a passport, a NEXUS card, a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card and an enhanced driver's license.
Because of the Wallenda event, higher-than-normal traffic volumes are also anticipated at the Lewiston/Queenston Bridge and the Peace Bridge. The NFBC's NEXUS-only Whirlpool Bridge will be open in Niagara Falls until 2 a.m. Saturday to better serve cardholders.
The commission and other border-crossing agencies offer a host of information sources via the Web, Twitter, toll-free phone lines and radio broadcasts. To help ensure smooth and rapid crossings of its three Niagara River bridges Friday and early Saturday, NFBC officials also reminded motorists to take advantage of NEXUS, and choose non-peak travel times as often as possible.
The Rainbow Bridge will have 18 open car-inspection lanes into the U.S. and 15 into Canada. The Whirlpool Bridge is NEXUS-only from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. in both directions, which helps to move motorists across as fast as possible.
·Call the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission's toll free number at 1-800-715-6722 or call 511 for the latest traffic updates.
·Tune to radio to 1610 AM.
·Visit any of the following websites: www.cbp.gov,www.cbsa.gc.ca,www.nittec.org,www.peacebridge.com,http://niagarafallsbridges.com/traffic_conditions.php3.
·Note the NITTEC highway dynamic message signs with posted delays beyond 30 minutes
·Register at www.mynittec.org to receive a free personalized email or text notification of border and regional traffic information.
·Access Twitter at www.twitter.com/CBSA_BWT.
About the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission
A joint resolution of the 1938 U.S. Congressional Third Session created the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission. The Extra Provincial Corporations Act of the Province of Ontario, Canada, licenses the NFBC. Canada and the U.S. are equally represented on the NFBC by an eight-member board of commissioners. Initially established to finance, construct and operate the Rainbow Bridge, the commission proved sufficiently efficient and effective to assume responsibilities for the Whirlpool Rapids (lower) and Lewiston-Queenston bridges. The NFBC builds and maintains all facilities for customs and immigration functions on both sides of the international border. The NFBC is self-supportive, largely through user fees (tolls) and private-sector tenant leases. NFBC is federally chartered to conduct international commercial financial transactions and issue federal (U.S.) tax-exempt bonds.