Officials settle on new Fort Erie bridge design

FORT ERIE, Ont. — While headlines about a new bridge in Windsor-Detroit were splashed across newspapers last month, officials responsible for choosing a new crossing at another vital border point in southern Ontario were quietly inching closer to a decision too.

More than six years after construction was to have begun on a new Peace Bridge between Fort Erie, Ont. and Buffalo, N.Y., a binational panel has settled on a design.

The Peace Bridge Design Selection Jury, which was established by the Town of Fort Erie and the City of Buffalo to recommend a bridge concept to the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, deliberated for over 12 weeks over 33 bridge concept alternatives.

The jury — which consists of 32 members from the U.S. and Canada — agreed at their last meeting to retain the existing Peace Bridge and excluded from consideration the “twin span”, and segmental bridges, electing instead to concentrate mostly on cable stay companion bridge concepts.

Computer rendering of new Peace Bridge proposal

They essentially agreed a “Two Tower Cable Stay Companion Bridge design — which has two needle shaped towers that straddle the roadway, supporting a main span of 500 meters.

One tower is located on the western shore and the other is located on the west side of the Black Rock Canal; both have a height of approximately 173 meters. The cables connect to the outside edges of the roadway and run to the outside face of the towers near the base, which transition to the central spindle near the top.

The concept was designed by renowned bridge engineer Dr. Christian Menn. “This concept was considered to most closely meet the vision and considerations providing a simple and elegant structure that provides a great crossing experience while respecting and maintaining a clear view of the existing bridge,” the jury stated.

The U.S. and Canada have yet to agree on a shared-border and customs management plan. Previous discussions centered on moving most U.S. inspectors to the Canadian side of the bridge, which proponents say would speed up traffic flow.
About 6,000 trucks cross the current Peace Bridge, considered the third busiest Canada-U.S. crossing.

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