NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — State officials are holding a public hearing this week to discuss plans for replacing 115-year-old bridges linking the mainland to islands near the brink of Niagara Falls.
The state parks and transportation departments said in an October report that the two concrete arch bridges need to be replaced.
To do so, they might reduce the flow on the American side of the falls by building a temporary structure to redirect Niagara River water to the Canadian side.
The bridges in question provide pedestrian access to Goat Island, located in the middle of Niagara Falls. The island sees millions of visitors each year.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Niagara Falls has gone “dry.” The American and Bridal Veil Falls were “turned off” in 1969 by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers to study the effects of erosion and build-up of rock at the base of the falls.
According to NBC News, this action cut back the normal flow of 60,000 gallons a second to almost nothing from June to November of that year. Most of the water was either sent to the Horseshoe Falls or diverted to the Robert Moses generating plant’s upriver intakes.
People came from all over the world to see the falls turned off. Everyone was curious to see what lied underneath. According to The Buffalo News, millions of coins were found and carried out in buckets to deter people from going out onto the rocks.
After the six month study nothing changed and the International Joint Commission recommended that nature should take its course.
This time around safety is the reason for dewatering of the falls. The concrete arch bridges were closed in 2004 and temporary bridges were put in for safe passage. The concrete bridges stills stand underneath, but the structure has continued to deteriorate.
The public hearing will be held Wednesday evening at the Niagara Falls Convention Center.