Tonawanda News

October 12, 2013

Border agencies brace for heavy weekend influx

By DON GLYNN don.glynn@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Traffic volumes at the border are expected to be significantly higher than average this weekend with Canadians celebrating their Thanksgiving and Americans observing Columbus Day, both holidays on Monday. The National Weather Service is calling for temperatures in the low 70s with generally sunny conditions. A shower is possible on Monday but it may not occur until later in the day. 

“We’re anticipating a busy weekend,” said Major David A. Page of the regional state park police, based on Goat Island in the Niagara Falls State Park. Citing the favorable weather forecast for the three-day holiday, Page added: “It’s generally considered as the last big weekend of the (tourist) season but, in addition, we know from experience that many local people also will be out and around.”

With the holidays at the same time, heavy traffic in both directions is predicted at the international bridges. “We’ll have extra personnel on to help direct that traffic,” said Lew Holloway, general manager of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission that operates the Rainbow, Lewiston-Queenston and Whirlpool Rapids bridges. The Whirlpool span is restricted to NEXUS card holders, the prescreened drivers and passengers considered low-risk travelers. The Peace Bridge linking Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ont., also is prepared for a sharp increase in activity.

Late Friday afternoon, the volumes were already building with traffic into the U.S. extending nearly the length of the 950-foot Rainbow Bridge. Holloway said the Customs and Border Protection Services was staffing all lanes.

Away from the state park, an added attraction today is the Old Falls Street Oktobefest, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., in the middle block between Third Street and the entrance to Prospect Park. The entertainment will include live performances by the Bergholz German Band, the German-American Musicians, the Edelweiss Dancers and the Alphorn Society of Western New York.