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Wallenda notebook / The falls wire-walk

Should Nik Wallenda need to be rescued Friday during his walk across the falls, no boats will be available to come to his aid, according to Douglas Kane, chief of the Niagara Parks Police Service in Canada.

Kane said Tuesday that the water level in the Niagara Gorge at night will be 16 to 18 feet lower than in the daytime, making it difficult for boats to enter the water.

Kane said police officers and other rescue personnel will be stationed in the lower gorge, and two helicopters -- one from Canada and one from the Erie County Sheriff's Office -- will be available for rescues.

Water rescuers at the Canadian Forces Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ont., have a two-hour response time. A notice has been sent to them regarding the Wallenda event, but they may not be available, Kane said, as they need to be on call for possible emergencies near the Trenton area.

Maj. David Page of the New York State Parks Police said no boats would be stationed on the American side, either, and that any recovery efforts would focus farther downstream, on the areas where bodies typically float from the falls.

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Travel tips

Travel advisory signs are already positioned along the Robert Moses Parkway, reminding motorists that they should expect heavy traffic in Niagara Falls on Friday. Congestion can be expected on Interstate 190 between the South Grand Island Bridge toll barrier and Niagara Falls Boulevard.

Motorists attending the event should allow additional travel time due to increased traffic volume. State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Susan Surdej said travelers can call 511 to obtain real-time information on traffic conditions.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster said travelers can arrive as early as 11 a.m. Friday to avoid peak travel periods. Attractions will be available for tourists all day on Old Falls Street, including a festival and an art display, he said.

Niagara Falls Police Capt. Salvatore Pino recommended visitors arrive by 5 p.m. to avoid the most congestion.

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Places to park

Limited parking will be available for the wire-walk, including only about 2,000 parking spots in the downtown area, said Niagara Falls Police Capt. Salvadore Pino. Police will direct tourists to designated parking spots throughout the afternoon and will close off parking lots once they're full.

The two-hour limit for downtown parking will be eliminated for the day.

Once parking lots are full, cars will be directed to nine blocks of vacant land owned by Niagara Falls Redevelopment that will be barricaded for parking. Police will be monitoring the area and will direct vehicles from downtown once the event ends.

Park-and-ride shuttles will be offered from various spots throughout the city.

Due to the limited parking downtown, visitors are welcome to park at the New York Power Authority's Power Vista in lots B1, B2 and C, then ride a shuttle to downtown Niagara Falls for $5, said Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. President John Percy. Four shuttles will run every half-hour, and the lot can accommodate up to 644 vehicles.

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Crossing the border

The Rainbow Bridge will -maintain regular pedestrian and vehicle operations Friday, but the pedestrian walk cannot be used as a viewing platform.

Increased security will move foot and motor traffic across the bridge, said Kate Rampino of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission.

Travelers planning cross-border trips Friday and Saturday are advised to plan for an increase in both pedestrian and automobile traffic over the bridge. The Whirlpool Bridge's closing will be extended from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. for NEXUS cardholders.

email: meltagouri@buffnews.com