The Bridge – Description and Status
The Peace Bridge is located near the center of downtown Buffalo, New York, and Fort Erie, Ontario, where it crosses the Niagara River. The Peace Bridge is one of four vehicular toll crossings over the Niagara River in the region. The other three crossings are the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge and the Rainbow Bridge, which are owned and operated by the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission and are located roughly 20 highway miles north of the Peace Bridge. Of the four bridges, the Peace Bridge and Lewiston-Queenston Bridge carry a greater percentage of vehicles with non-local destinations because of their connections to major arterials. Consequently, there is a greater amount of commercial traffic on the Peace Bridge and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.
The main approaches to the Peace Bridge on the United States side are the New York State Thruway (I-190) and Porter Avenue, a four-lane arterial. On the Canadian side, the principal approach highways are the Queen Elizabeth Way (“QEW”), a four-lane controlled-access highway, Highway 3, a regional four-lane highway and the Niagara Parkway. Tolls are collected one-way only on crossing from the United States into Canada.
The Peace Bridge measures 3,580 feet in length from abutment to abutment. The roadway is 36 feet wide from curb to curb with two six-foot pedestrian sidewalks on either side of the bridge. The superstructure of the Peace Bridge consists of riveted steel with reinforced concrete deck slabs and a latex modified concrete wearing surface. The Peace Bridge was originally designed to support two lanes of 20-ton trucks and two tracks for 40-ton trolleys. Although the supporting structural steel is in place to support the trolley tracks, the tracks were never installed. Today, the Peace Bridge has been modified to a three-lane bridge with twelve-foot wide lanes, able to accommodate heavy-duty commercial loads. The center lane of this three-lane bridge is reversible, allowing for two-lane operation in one direction during peak hours.
The Peace Bridge is rigorously inspected annually even though the state requirement is every two years. In addition, a visual inspection is performed after any significant seismic activity, flood, or impact event. The primary structural steel members and concrete substructures are functioning as intended in the original design. The load carrying capacity of the bridge is adequate for the current legal loads. The 2014 annual inspection found the structural condition of the Peace Bridge to be generally satisfactory to good.