Officials' Plan: Turn Off Niagara Falls
New York State wants to replace two ailing bridges
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2016 2:45 PM CST
Tourists ride the Maid of the Mist tour boat at the base of the American Falls in Niagara Falls, NY.   (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)

(Newser) – Plan on visiting the US side of Niagara Falls? Better plan ahead, if you want to see actual falls—because New York state officials want to temporarily stop the water from flowing, Discovery reports. They plan to direct water away from Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls, two of three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls, while a pair of aging bridges are demolished and replaced. Water would be diverted away from the two falls for six to nine months while the two-year construction job is completed, the Buffalo News reports. Projected cost: $21 million to $37 million. The stone arch bridges, built in Niagara Falls State Park 115 years ago, were shut down in 2004 for being unsafe; now authorities say they're unattractive and can never be restored.

The plan is to build a "cofferdam" (a collection of rock and dirt) to divert water from the two US falls to Canada's Horseshoe Falls, where over 80% of Niagara Falls already runs. It's been done before, back in 1969, when the water was curbed to analyze rock buildup and erosion at the falls' base (they found two bodies and millions of coins, but nothing to suggest changes at the site). As for the current plan, it hasn't been approved, has no funding, and will take up to seven years to get started, an official tells the Toronto Star. Niagara Falls historian Paul Gromosiak is not a fan. "The sun baking down on the rock isn’t good for the falls and it also affects the appearance of the falls," he tells the Buffalo News. "I’m very concerned about the long-term effects." (These two people went up the falls.)