It all depends on funding though. It seems every winter in the last few years, Niagara Falls is making national news. If it is not the “Frozen Falls”, it is now talk on shutting down the water flow of the Niagara River on the New York side. They call this de-watering the Falls. The Falls is very powerful and each year takes a damaging toll on the stone and steel bridges spanning the river.
GWGT is exploding in views because people are looking for information on closing the Falls. With all the national and local coverage, I am rather surprised not yet doing a post on this subject that viewers are finding their way here. The last post has many images of iced trees, but the Falls closing was the draw. Many went to the meeting on Wednesday to see the presentation. I was rather interested in the time frame and overall cost.
The Conference and Events Center Niagara Falls meeting was attended by a number of state and local officials. The public hearing focused on the reconstruction of the 115 year-old, three bridges spanning between the three land masses – Goat Island, Green Island and the U.S. mainland.
Cost is expected to be between $23 million to $34 million. With all those years of deterioration especially through hard winters, the current bridges had to be secured for visitors with a temporary structure overlaid on the existing bridges shown below.
Unfortunately, so much of the original stone bridges’ beauty has been lost with the addition of the temporary structures.
They have side support/safety rails almost as high as the height of many a person, plus they sit over the original bridge, so you no longer have the experience of a casual, old-fashioned stone-bridge walk. Below, the vehicular bridge takes you to both Goat Island and Three Sisters Islands.
The project will not start for over 32 months because that is the expectation to secure additional funding. The last dewatering effort at Niagara Falls in 1969 had two cofferdams built for the Bridal Falls channel and the American Falls. The cofferdams diverted water during construction and made the Falls but a trickle. The engineers have to keep the stone of the river bed wet or else the stone will spall and crack. So by allowing some water to pass, they ensure the stone integrity. My husband saw the de-watering in 1969 when he was a child. He did think it was interesting to see.
A similar plan to the one in 1969 will be performed for the current plan over the course of two years. Two plans are up for approval, one would leave both the Bridal Falls and American Falls dry for the months of August to December. The second plan looks at nine months dry river bed during the months of April to December.
Honestly, the American side of the Falls has been a big construction site for years now and I highly doubt they will complete three bridges in the shortened 5 month time frame.
Officials will decide between a set of steel overhead arches, stone archways below, and a multi-girder span made primarily of steel. It was noted the State favors the overhead arch design, most probably for durability and strength. You can see from my construction images above, much of the aesthetics of the area has been hampered by all the construction fencing and machinery. Some of the areas are blockaded to visitors.
Maybe the de-watering of the Falls will bring tourists like some have said, but all the ongoing construction is not a pleasing sight. Usually I show only the pretty images, but this is the reality. Hopefully by 2019, all the current construction will be complete. Then they can start bridge repair.