U.S - Canadian Bridge Traffic Expected to Surge

November 21, 2011 Updated Nov 21, 2011 at 11:56 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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U.S - Canadian Bridge Traffic Expected to Surge

November 21, 2011 Updated Nov 21, 2011 at 11:56 AM EDT

LEWISTON, NY Nov. 21, 2011 –( release) Several methods are available this week so motorists crossing the three bridges the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission operates between Canada and the United States can obtain up-to-date information about traffic flow.

With American Thanksgiving Thursday, Friday’s traditional start of the holiday shopping season and other events on both sides of the border, this is a time of peak traffic. The commission and other border-crossing agencies offer a host of information sources via the Web, Twitter, toll-free phone lines and radio broadcasts.

To help ensure smooth and rapid crossings of its three Niagara River bridges this week Niagara Falls Bridge Commission officials today also reminded motorists to take advantage of NEXUS – including a new NEXUS-only lane going to Canada at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge – and choose non-peak travel times as often as possible.

The commission operates Lewiston-Queenston, the Rainbow Bridge and the NEXUS-only Whirlpool Bridge – which operates from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. in both directions. Officials anticipate elevated numbers of crossings, with peaks in the late morning-early afternoons into the United States and late afternoons and evenings returning to Canada.

The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge entering Canada will have 10 inspection lanes available, with six passenger and four commercial lanes entering the United States. When busy, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will use up to three of the commercial lanes to process cars.

At the Rainbow Bridge, the number of car inspection lanes – 18 into the U.S. and 15 into Canada – remains the same as 2010.

“We always want the word to get out that if you can travel at off-peak hours, even by an hour or two, you can help speed your crossings said NFBC General Manager Lew Holloway. “Traffic is generally heavy during the morning and early afternoon into the U.S. and late afternoons and evenings back to Canada. Having proper identification and receipts for purchases ready to pass to the Customs Officer will help move people through faster.”

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), a U.S. law, requires all travelers to the United States to present a valid passport or another approved secure document at the border. Acceptable forms of identification for both U.S. entry and re-entry into Canada that also meet the requirements of the WHTI include a passport, a NEXUS card, a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card and an enhanced driver's license.

Unlike last year, the Buffalo Bills are away Sunday. The Buffalo Sabres play home games Wednesday and Saturday. On the other hand, the downtown Niagara Falls, NY Holiday Market opens a 36-day run on Friday, with the Canadian Tenors performing Saturday.

“The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission works closely with Customs on both sides of the border to speed the flow of travelers as much as it can,” Holloway said. “We must all keep in mind duty, tax and security considerations and be patient when crossing. People should know that we’re doing all we can to make our bridge operations as efficient and effective as possible.”

“It helps everyone if travelers plan to cross at off-peak hours,” he added.

Travelers Tips:

· Calling the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission’s toll free number at 1-800-715-6722 or call 511 for the latest traffic updates

· Tuning to radio to 1610 AM.

· Visiting any of the following websites: , http://niagarafallsbridges.com/traffic_conditions.php3, www.cbp.gov, www.cbsa.gc.ca, www.nittec.org, www.peacebridge.com

· Noting the NITTEC highway dynamic message signs with posted delays beyond 30 minutes

· Registering at www.mynittec.org to receive a free personalized email or text notification of border and regional traffic information.

· Accessing Twitter at www.twitter.com/niagarabridges

· Have a passenger use a cell phone to access travel information at wap.gc.ca or www.gc.ca

About the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission

A Joint Resolution of the 1938 U.S. Congressional Third Session created the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission. The Extra Provincial Corporations Act of the Province of Ontario, Canada licenses the NFBC. Canada and the U.S. are equally represented on the NFBC by an eight-member Board of Commissioners. Initially established to finance, construct and operate the Rainbow Bridge, the Commission proved sufficiently efficient and effective to assume responsibilities for the Whirlpool Rapids (Lower) and Lewiston-Queenston Bridges. The NFBC builds and maintains all facilities for Customs and Immigration functions on both sides of the international border. The NFBC is self-supportive, largely through user fees (tolls) and private-sector tenant leases. NFBC is federally chartered to conduct international commercial financial transactions and issue federal (U.S.) tax-exempt bonds.