Peace Bridge Authority Announces Lane Closure
Beginning November 15, 2016 Through May 15, 2017
Authority calls on elected officials and U.S. and Canadian federal governments to minimize related traffic impacts by advocating for adequate Customs staffing levels during construction period
BUFFALO, NY/FORT ERIE, ON – Today the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (PBA) announced that the Peace Bridge will be reduced to two lanes between November 15, 2016 and May 15, 2017, in order to accommodate construction related to the ongoing $100 million Peace Bridge rehabilitation. In addition, the Authority has advised U.S. and Canadian government officials that any traffic impacts can be mitigated by ensuring proper inspection lane availability and Customs staffing levels during the lane closure period.
“So long as Customs appropriately staffs and keeps inspection lanes open this winter, then we anticipate little to no traffic disruption,” remarked PBA Board Chair Sam Hoyt. “But that commitment really needs to be made and maintained, and that is why the Authority is calling on all levels of government from both sides of the border to get involved and speak up about the importance of these traffic flow and staffing issues at the Peace Bridge.”
According to Richard Gobeille, National Toll and Finance Manager for Jacobs Civil Consultants, “A two-lane bridge [such as the Peace Bridge] with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour has a per lane capacity of approximately 1,000 vehicles per hour, which is more than the anticipated number of cars during November through May. One lane of traffic in each direction can certainly accommodate normal traffic flows across the Peace Bridge, both east and west bound, especially during months when daily traffic volumes are significantly lower than in the summer season.”
“While we are pleased that a respected, third-party traffic consultant has determined that our closure plan will not impact the continued flow of cars and trucks across the span, it is important to note that this positive traffic flow scenario is contingent on proper Customs staffing and inspection lane availability,” continued Hoyt. “We’ve gotten strong indications from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that they can meet the staffing demand and we need Canada Border Services Agency to follow suit.”
The PBA enlisted the traffic consultant to review impact of operating a two-lane bridge during the period of lane closure, as the normal Peace Bridge lane configuration is three lanes – two lanes east (U.S. bound) and one lane west (Canada bound). The results of the report, completed by Jacobs Civil Consultants, Inc. are available in the attached findings letter.
“Several years ago the Authority embarked upon an ambitious capital improvement plan to ensure the long-term viability of the Peace Bridge as a regional and international corridor for robust travel, tourism and trade,” said PBA Vice-Chair Rocky Vacca. “As part of this effort, and at additional cost to the Authority, we planned and scheduled a significant portion of bridge rehabilitation work to occur during the off-peak traffic season—in order to ensure minimal disruption to the traveling public.”
A series of traffic management improvements have been completed by the PBA in recent years to better accommodate trade, travel, tourism and the upcoming bridge re-decking work. Several examples include the recently completed widening of the Peace Bridge’s U.S. approach allows an increased number of trucks to be queued off the bridge. An eighth commercial inspection booth is also slated for installation by December 2016 to increase throughout capacity for trucks within the U.S. plaza. On the Canadian side, a partial fourth lane has been added to provide Canada-bound trucks and NEXUS users easier access off of the bridge.
The $100 million rehabilitation project is scheduled to be completed in spring 2019. During the fall/winter of 2017 and 2018, the cycle of a single lane closure will be repeated. All three lanes of the Peace Bridge will be open throughout the traditionally busy summer seasons.
About the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority
The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, a binational bridge authority, has owned and operated the Peace Bridge since 1933. The bridge, which was opened to traffic in 1927, spans the Niagara River between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York, and is a key international border crossing.