Peace Bridge operated without electricity for hours

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Peace Bridge operated solely on a generator for nearly 24 hours. The power was restored around 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

Neighbors around the Peace Bridge noticed the power go out briefly before sunrise Wednesday and then it came back on. The Peace Bridge power didn’t come back. A backup generator kicked in, so everything seemed normal until early afternoon.

“I think it was about two o’clock and everything was going fine and then the lights went off above the booths and then the lines completely stopped, so we weren’t moving at all,” said Canadian driver Katie Thompson.

That’s when even the backup generator stopped working for almost three hours. Customs officers could use only laptops according the Peace Bridge Authority Executive Director Ron Rienas.

“I really have to commend Customs and Border Protection. They did an excellent job of maintaining at least some functionality at the border and my understanding is they were using laptops in the booths with remote access to bypass the computers that did not have power.”

Rienas says bridge officials would have shut down the bridge and diverted traffic to other bridges if they felt that security would be jeopardized.

US Senator Charles Schumer says it should have never come to that.

“We need back up, auxiliary power. The Peace Bridge is too important both for security and for commerce to have power go out and to have big tie ups at the bridge, so I will be asking the Peace Bridge Authority and the Federal Transportation Department to see what we can do to make sure there’s backup power in case it happens again.”

Buffalo Congressman Brian Higgins agrees.

“Certainly, the technology is available and the resources are available for something so important toward the functionality of that bridge.”

This is the first time the Peace Bridge has run on a generator this long, since the October surprise eight years ago, and it’s the first time in memory that the generator itself broke down.

Peace Bridge officials brought in a backup to the backup generator just in case it happens again. National Grid technicians spent the evening trying to pinpoint an underground cable failure along Busti Avenue that they say only affects the Peace Bridge.

After nearly 24 hours, power was restored to the bridge.

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