Yesterday Canada and the United States announced Phase 2 of the Truck Pre-Inspection pilot project at the Peace Bridge, which will have U.S.-bound trucks pre-inspected in Canada. The result: reducing border wait times at a critical crossing, and testing whether such a system can be expanded to other border-crossing sites.
The Phase II pilot, launched Monday by Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney, Minister of National Defence Robert Nicholson, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY); and Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY), continues work that was started at the Pacific Highway border crossing between Surrey, British Columbia and Blaine, Washington as part of the Beyond the Border (BTB) Action Plan.
Learn more about how the BTB Action Plan can strengthen the Canada-U.S. economic and security relationship here.
The Public Safety Canada Phase II press release, quoting President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Perrin Beatty, sums up the pilot’s potential: ”The program has the potential to dramatically reduce wait times at one of the busiest border crossings between Canada and the U.S. Its successful implementation will go a long way towards making our shared border more efficient.”
And the DHS press release highlights the immediate value of the pilot, along with pilot’s long-term potential:
“Today is a banner day for Western New York, its commuters, restaurants, businesses, sports teams, residents and more,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “It’s been a long road getting the Peace Bridge chosen as one of only two pilot sites in the country for pre-clearance of commercial truck traffic on the Canadian side, but I am confident it will prove worth the wait. Starting today, the pilot program will make history in Western New York, and if it’s successful, could lead to its permanence and the relocation of all truck inspections to Ontario.”
AP reporter Carolyn Thompson offers an excellent article on yesterday’s launch at ABCNews.com:
U.S. customs officers began inspecting U.S.-bound cargo trucks in Canada Monday under a pilot program intended to relieve congestion at one of the border’s busiest commercial crossings.
Authorities will watch to see whether pre-inspecting trucks on the roomier Canadian side of the Peace Bridge will reduce wait times and pollution-causing idling on the 86-year-old span between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo.
The bridge handled 1.2 million truck trips and more than $40 billion in trade last year, making it the third-busiest truck crossing on the U.S.-Canada border. The three-lane span also saw more than 4.7 million passenger cars, more than any other port of entry.
With the U.S. side of the bridge lacking space to increase capacity, lawmakers have for several years wanted to shift some inspections to Canada. But they faced a myriad of jurisdictional and other obstacles, including objections to armed U.S. officers working in Canada, which only recently armed its border officers.
“The reaction of most people was to throw up their hands and say let’s forget about it, and we persisted,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a news conference attended by Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Canada’s minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, Steven Blaney. “We just had to keep showing people how important this was to our mutual economy. That’s the bottom line here.”