In 1969, Niagara Falls was shut down to look at the effects of erosion on the falls as well as the development of rocks at the bottom of the falls, which were impeding the flow of the Niagra River.  Yet if things go the way of the state parks department and the permits are granted, the American Falls portion of Niagra Falls could be shut down in three years for….

…..a bridge replacement!

Goat Island Bridge over Niagra River near American Falls on the US side of Niagra Falls. Photo taken in 2008. Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/de/Green_Island_%26_Goat_Island_pedestrian_bridge_2008.jpg

Permits are being sought and contracts are being let to replace two bridges on Goat Island Road that span the Niagara River at American Falls. Each were built in the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration project initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and consisted of stone arch bridges.

The mainland to Goat Island span is the longest and is 460 feet long, whereas the Goat to Green Island span is 180 feet.

Both bridges have been deteriorating rapidly and according to Buffalo News, the cost for rehabilitating the two spans would total $37 million, which was considered not viable given the current structural state and the materials used for bridge construction. It is unknown what type of bridge will be used as a replacement to the two structures.

The plan is to divert all water flow from the American Falls end to the Horseshoe Falls end in Canada. Horseshoe Falls accounts for 85% of all water flow from the Niagara River as it connects Lake Ontario with Lake Erie.

According to the same news source, a cofferdam will be installed where the river divides itself into two branches encircling the island towards the falls. This will shut off the water flow completely. This even will be historic and most likely a twice in a lifetime event as construction of the two bridges may take at least two years to complete. The question is when to shut off the water flow without affecting tourism.

While the option of allowing for bridge work while the water is flowing is open, it was rejected for unknown reasons. In either case, the event, if and when it happens will be historic  and a must-see in this generation….

…or should it be? What would happen if the water was diverted away and how it would affect the environmental surroundings? Is is necessary to have it shut down just for a couple bridges? What is your take on this?

The Chronicles will keep you informed on this update on the project. Stay tuned….

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REMINDER: You have one more week to vote on your favorite bridges and pontists for the 2015 Ammann Awards. Click here to look at the candidates. Remember! There are two parts with the first part being the photos and second having the ballots. Deadline is 2 February and the results will be presented the same day. So hurry if you want to vote!

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