US-Canada Border Project Works On Land, Over Water Is Next Phase

A six-month pilot program conducted at the Pacific Highway land crossing between Blaine, Wash., and Surry, B.C., that allowed U.S. customs officers stationed in Canada to pre-inspect trucks entering the United States has ended, but the concept has been deemed “feasible” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.The successful first phase opens the door for the more complex 12-month test on the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, N.Y., one that involves a river crossing as opposed to a land crossing, which is set to begin this month.

If the Fort Erie test is successful, it could mean the number of commercial inspection booths will increase from seven currently on the U.S. side to 12 on the Canadian side. The project’s second phase in Fort Erie is expected to “test the ability of the pre-inspection process to reduce wait times and border congestion,” according to Customs and Border Protection.

“The success of phase one provides evidence that through this coordinated, bi-national partnership we can more efficiently move people and vehicles across our shared border,” Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, said in a statement. “We look forward to the beginning of this process at the Peace Bridge and the significant value it will bring to the interconnected economies of our country generally and the Western New York region specifically.”

The Washington test was part of the two countries’ “Beyond the Border” agreement. It calls for a better coordinated effort at border crossings to streamline traffic and the flow of goods. It also envisions a treaty, addressing such issues as officer powers and immunity, for future land, sea and air crossings.

The Peace Bridge is the No. 3 U.S.-Canada crossing in terms of truck traffic, behind Michigan’s Ambassador and Blue Water bridges.

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