FORT ERIE, ONT (WIVB) – Crews are getting ready for a big project over the Niagara River, this weekend, that is expected to disrupt traffic on the Peace Bridge and Interstate 190, along the river.
The crews are in the initial stages of replacing the International Power Line, which is 100 years old, and obsolete. The power line’s owner, Canadian Niagara Power, Inc., de-energized the wires back in 2011.
The International Power Line is massive–hoisted by two massive steel towers–over the Niagara River between Fort Erie and Buffalo. It transmits 115-thousand volts of electricity starting in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and winds its way to the terminus along Niagara Street, in Buffalo.
But the IPL is a backup line for the actual transmission line serving Fort Erie says Jie Han, the Vice President of Operations for Canadian Niagara Power, and this weekend, the wires are coming down.
“If that line failed, the Town of Fort Erie would end up in black. So we have this line, and in case that happened, we can switch to the American side to keep the power supply for the town of Fort Erie.”
This Saturday, folks in Buffalo and Fort Erie will get their first glimpse of the IPL Rebuild Project, as crews cut the power lines from the Buffalo High Tower using an implosion cutting technique that uses explosives to sever the cables about 60 feet from tower.
“The river crossing now, we are putting temporary helpers on, which are basically steel slings, grips, and helpers, so that when they drop the wire from the American side, there is no fear of it breaking at the dead end on the Canadian side,” explained Steve Dewell, whose company Durham High Voltage is cutting the cables.
The crews will pull down the cables and wind them up, then the aging steel towers–155 feet high on the American side, and 220 feet at Fort Erie–will be dismantled and will be replaced by even taller steel tubular poles.
Han said construction of the new poles should get underway next summer, “The first consideration is the safety of our workers. The second one is less interruption of I-190 traffic. So those are the reasons why we are doing it Saturday morning at 7:00.”
Dewell adds safety is paramount, “It is going to be done nice and slow and deliberate, and cautiously.”
Canadian Niagara officials are getting the word out now because traffic along the I-190 and the Peace Bridge will be disrupted at various times Saturday morning. Canadian Niagara Power officials can answer most of your questions here.