The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge is an international bridge that spans the Niagara River between Lewiston, New York in the United States and Queenston, Ontario in Canada. Here is a brief history of the bridge:
- The bridge was designed by Swiss engineer Othmar Ammann, who is also known for designing the George Washington Bridge in New York City.
- Construction on the bridge began in May 1960 and was completed in November 1962, at a cost of $17 million.
- The bridge was officially opened on November 1, 1962, by Queen Elizabeth II and President John F. Kennedy, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Canadian side.
- The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge is a suspension bridge that is 1,600 feet (490 meters) long and 190 feet (58 meters) above the Niagara River at its highest point.
- The bridge has four traffic lanes and a pedestrian walkway, and it is one of the busiest border crossings between the United States and Canada.
- The bridge was built to replace the original Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, which was a cantilever bridge that was built in 1901 and demolished in 1962.
Over the years, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge has undergone various renovations and improvements to keep up with the increasing traffic between the two countries. In 1990, a toll plaza was added to the Canadian side of the bridge, and in 2000, a new inspection facility was built on the U.S. side to handle the increasing volume of commercial traffic. Despite its age, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge remains an important transportation link between the United States and Canada.
- The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge was the first of three international bridges built across the Niagara River after the signing of the Niagara Treaty in 1950, which allowed for the construction of new border crossings between the United States and Canada.
- The bridge was named after the two communities it connects: Lewiston, New York and Queenston, Ontario. Lewiston is named after Morgan Lewis, a governor of New York, while Queenston is named after Sir Isaac Brock's birthplace in England.
- The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge was originally designed to carry both vehicular and rail traffic, but plans for a rail line were abandoned during construction.
- The bridge's design includes two 325-foot (99-meter) tall towers that support the main suspension cables. The cables themselves are made up of more than 10,000 individual wires, each just 0.196 inches (5 millimeters) in diameter.
- In 1982, a U.S. Air Force Reserve cargo plane crashed into the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, damaging one of the bridge's towers and causing significant traffic disruptions. Thankfully, there were no fatalities in the accident.
- The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge has played a significant role in the history of cross-border trade between the United States and Canada. It has been a key transportation link for industries such as tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing, and has helped to facilitate the movement of goods and people between the two countries for over 60 years.
Previous suspension bridges
There have been several previous suspension bridges built across the Niagara River before the construction of the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. Here are some of the most notable ones:
The first suspension bridge across the Niagara River was the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, which opened in 1855. It connected Niagara Falls, New York with Niagara Falls, Ontario and was designed by Charles Ellet Jr. The bridge was destroyed by a strong windstorm in 1869.
The Niagara International Railway Bridge was a railroad suspension bridge built in 1873, downstream from the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge. It was designed by John Augustus Roebling, the same engineer who designed the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge was destroyed by a windstorm in 1889.
The Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge (1883) was a replacement for the original bridge, and it was designed by the same engineer as the Niagara International Railway Bridge, John Augustus Roebling. The bridge was destroyed by a fire in 1898.
The Queenston-Lewiston Suspension Bridge was built in 1899, upstream from the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge. It was designed by Leffert L. Buck, who had also worked on the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge was demolished in 1963 after the construction of the current Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.
The construction of these previous suspension bridges across the Niagara River played an important role in the development of transportation and trade between the United States and Canada, as well as in the history of bridge engineering.
Lewiston-Queenston Bridge Geography
The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge spans the Niagara River, which forms part of the international border between the United States and Canada. The bridge connects the town of Lewiston in Niagara County, New York on the American side with the village of Queenston in the Niagara Region of Ontario on the Canadian side.
The bridge is located approximately seven miles (11 kilometers) downstream from Niagara Falls and about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Buffalo, New York. The Niagara River flows from Lake Erie in the south to Lake Ontario in the north, and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge is one of several international crossings that link the United States and Canada in the Niagara region.
The surrounding area is known for its natural beauty, including the Niagara Escarpment, which runs through the region and is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The area is also home to several historic sites, such as Fort Niagara on the American side and Brock's Monument on the Canadian side, which commemorate the War of 1812. The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge is a popular tourist attraction, offering stunning views of the Niagara River and the surrounding landscape.
On December 12, 1960, a United Airlines Douglas DC-8 passenger jet carrying 77 people crashed into the Niagara River while attempting to land at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, located about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. The crash killed all 44 passengers and crew members on board.
The wreckage of the plane was scattered across a wide area, with some debris landing on the Canadian side of the river, and some on the American side. Some of the wreckage fell onto the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, damaging one of the bridge's towers and prompting fears that the bridge may collapse. However, the bridge was able to withstand the impact and remained standing.
The crash led to changes in aviation safety regulations, including improvements to cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders, as well as changes to airport approach procedures. It also prompted the construction of the Niagara Falls International Airport, which opened in 1928 and is located on the American side of the Niagara River, closer to the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.
The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge is an important border crossing between the United States and Canada. It is one of several crossings in the Niagara Region and is located about 7 miles (11 kilometers) downstream from Niagara Falls. The bridge is open 24 hours a day and has four lanes of traffic, two in each direction.
The bridge is used by a variety of travelers, including tourists, commuters, and commercial vehicles. It is an important transportation link for industries such as tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing, and helps facilitate the movement of goods and people between the two countries.
To cross the border at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, travelers must present appropriate identification and may be subject to inspections by customs and border protection officials. The bridge is equipped with inspection booths on both the American and Canadian sides, and officials may conduct inspections of vehicles and their occupants, including searches for contraband or other illegal items.
The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge is also equipped with NEXUS lanes, which are dedicated lanes for pre-approved, low-risk travelers who have undergone background checks and interviews with customs and border protection officials. These lanes are designed to expedite the border crossing process for eligible travelers.
It is one of four bridges that connect the Niagara Region of Ontario with Western New York, and is the third busiest of these bridges, after the Peace Bridge and the Rainbow Bridge.
The bridge is operated by the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, a binational organization that oversees the operation and maintenance of several international crossings in the Niagara Region. The commission works closely with customs and border protection agencies on both sides of the border to ensure that the crossing is safe and efficient.
To cross the border at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, travelers must present valid identification documents, such as a passport or enhanced driver's license. They may also be subject to inspections by customs and border protection officials, who have the authority to search vehicles and their occupants, and to seize any contraband or illegal items found.
The bridge is equipped with modern technology and infrastructure to facilitate the border crossing process, including electronic toll collection systems and license plate recognition cameras. It also has dedicated lanes for commercial vehicles and for pre-approved, low-risk travelers enrolled in programs such as NEXUS or FAST (Free and Secure Trade).
Overall, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge plays a vital role in connecting the United States and Canada and facilitating the movement of goods and people between the two countries.