The recently completed Peace Bridge Pilot Pre-Inspection Program was designed to test methods for cutting down on the time it takes cargo trucks to cross the Peace Bridge. The pilot program allowed U.S. bound cargo trucks to be inspected on the Canadian side of the border, where there is a full plaza to handle inspections.
During the one-year pilot program, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers pre-inspected trucks entering the United States on the Canadian side in the hopes of avoiding backups on the bridge due to the size constraints of the customs plaza on the Buffalo side.
Advantages of moving commercial traffic inspections to the Canadian side of the border include:
- Opening up the U.S. Plaza to more vehicle traffic
- Reducing congestion on the bridge
- Improving the environmental surroundings of neighborhoods near the international crossing
The pilot pre-inspections program ended at the start of 2015 after a year in practice, giving border officials time to review it before putting a full pre-inspection program in place. All indications signal that the pilot program was succeeding beyond expectations and now will require the U.S. and Canada to enter into a Treaty to make it permanent. Under the pilot program only two pre-inspection lanes were used, however, as it becomes permanent as many as 10 lanes would be used along the Fort Erie plaza.
The Buffalo Niagara Partnership has made the Peace Bridge Pre-Inspection Program a priority project to support. It is an important step to improving cross-border traffic between the U.S. and Canada, which is essential to the economy of the Buffalo Niagara region.
Our next step is to advocate to our federal legislative leaders and the U.S. Government to negotiate a pre-clearance treaty with Canada. Results of the pilot program are now being reviewed and a joint U.S.-Canada report is expected to be issued by the summer of 2015.
The partnership will continue to advocate to encourage the Department of Homeland Security to provide adequate staffing to make the program permanent. We will support the continued efforts by elected officials to enhance the cargo pre-inspection pilot program and to pressure the U.S. to make the program permanent.