Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission will celebrate two milestones this year, the 75th anniversary of its founding and the 50th year of the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.
Built in 1962, the Lewiston-Queenston spans 370 feet above the Niagara River and measures 1,600 feet in length. It connects the 1-190 (Niagara Expressway) on the U.S. side with Highway 405 in Ontario. In the overall scheme, it is a vital link between the State Thruway and the Queen Elizabeth Way. To this day, it has the fifth highest volume of commercial traffic between the U.S. and Canada.
The Canadian Plaza reconstruction at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge was competed at a cost of $49 million. That project included enhancing the plaza footprint, a new toll house facility, and five new commercial inspection lanes. The second phase of that reconstruction encompassed a $78 million investment in facilities for the Canada Food Inspection Agency and Canada Border Services Agency, plus 10 new primary vehicle inspection booths. The third phase in 2012 included a new Duty Free Store, a Cirrency Exchange, and public washrooms. The final phase started in 2012 is expected to be complete this fall. It covers civil works, landscaping and a dividing wall.
A series of commemorative events is planned, starting in the fall, according to Thomas G. Pryce, chair of the commission. In addition to the Lewiston-Queenston span, the agency owns and operates the Rainbow Bridge and the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge The latter is restricted to NEXUS card holders, pre-screened, low-risk travelers,
The international bridge agency was established in 1938 through a joint resolution by the U.S. Congress and the Extra Provincial Corporations Act of Ontario. Both Canada and the U.S. are equally represented on the eight-member commission.
The commission was formed after the Upper Steel Arch Bridge (better known as the Honeymoon Bridge) collapsed into the ice-choked Niagara Gorge on Jan. 27, 1938. The crash was caused by a massive ice jam pushing against the hinge supports of the arch.