The Peace Bridge

Buffalo, New York – Fort Erie, Ontario

1927 – Present

The idea of a Peace Bridge became a reality, mainly from the fact that the International Railway Bridge did not address the needs of pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic. In 1919, Alonzo Clark Mather began to push for a new bridge which would reflect the peace and the cooperation between two great nations. William C. Eckert led the pro bridge movement.

On August 6th 1925, the building of the Peace Bridge was approved by the International Joint Commission. Financing for the bridge totaled to $4.5 million dollars, mainly through bond issues.

The ground breaking ceremony took place on August 17th 1925. Completion was scheduled for spring of 1927.

Major construction contracts were awarded to R.B. Porter of St. Catharines, Turner Construction of Buffalo, and Bethlehem Steel Company of Pennsylvania. The chief engineer was Edward Lupfer.

The Peace Bridge was planned to be built approximately one kilometer south of the International Railway Bridge. A major obstacle to building this bridge was the water current, which averages 7.5 to 12 miles per hour.

The Peace Bridge consisted of five arched spans over the Niagara River and a Parker through-truss which spans the Black Rock Canal on the American side. The total length of this bridge is 5,800 feet (1,770 m), consisting of 3,500 feet of steel work. The bridge also included 9,000 tons of structural steel and 800 tons of reinforcing steel.

On March 13th 1927, Mr. Edward Lupfer, the chief engineer, drove the first car across the bridge. Mr. Lupfer later designed the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls.

On June 1st 1927, the Peace Bridge was opened to the public. An official ceremony was held on August 7th 1927.

Until 1992, the Peace Bridge was the busiest border crossing between Canada and the USA. Throughout the past decade, the Peace Bridge has under gone many structural improvements. In 1993, an $88 million dollar renovation plan was announced.

On December 2nd 1997, the Buffalo and Ft. Erie Public Bridge Authority, announced plans for the building of a twin second Peace Bridge to be situated to the North of the existing Peace Bridge in order to alleviate traffic congestion.

The 1997 project was estimated to cost $65 million dollars with a completion date of 2002. Construction is set to begin in March of 1999. The new bridge was to be modeled after the first Peace Bridge. It was planned to have five arched spans stretching end to end across the Niagara River. The highlight of this new bridge was a 17 storeys tall, 600 foot long, and 170 foot tall arch spanning the Black Rock Canal on the American side. The new Peace Bridge would have helped increase daily vehicle traffic by 33%. Today, legal difficulties and court challenges have delayed the start of bridge construction indefinitely.

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