5 border crossing facts to know in the wake of Rainbow Bridge explosion

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Published November 22, 2023 at 7:44 pm

A car explosion on the American side of the Rainbow Bridge border crossing in Niagara Falls left two people dead on Wednesday and put authorities in both countries on high alert. Here are five facts about border crossings in the region:

FOUR LAND CROSSINGS: The Rainbow Bridge is one of four land border crossings in the Niagara region connecting Ontario and New York state. The three other land crossings – the Queenston Lewiston Bridge, the Peace Bridge and the trusted-traveller Whirlpool Rapids Bridge – were closed for several hours after the explosion but reopened later on Wednesday.

RAINBOW BRIDGE A TOURIST HUB: Commercial vehicles are not allowed to use the Rainbow Bridge, making it popular with tourists. About 6,000 vehicles cross the Rainbow Bridge each day, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s National Bridge Inventory. The bridge, constructed in 1941, is just over 439 metres long and connects the New York state and Ontario sides of the Niagara Falls.

FOOT TRAFFIC ALLOWED: Foot traffic is typically allowed on the Rainbow Bridge, and tourists often take advantage of that to see both sides of the Niagara Falls. Pedestrians must also have proper travel documents to cross the bridge into Canada or the United States.

REGION’S BRIDGES IMPORTANT TO TRADE: The Peace Bridge between Buffalo, N.Y., and Fort Erie, Ont., and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ont., about 40 kilometres north are key trade arteries between U.S. and Canada. These two bridges carry more traffic to “non-local destinations” than other Niagara-area crossings because of their connections to major arterials, according to the Peace Bridge website, which also notes that US$40 billion in trade crosses that bridge every year.

TRUCK TRAFFIC AFFECTED: Canadian Trucking Alliance president Stephen Laskowski said Wednesday that truck drivers either pulled over or were considering alternate routes as the Rainbow Bridge incident shut down cross-border traffic for hours in the region. He did note, however, that cross-border trade is typically a little lighter in the days right before American Thanksgiving.

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