Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced his support for the advancement of a commercial vehicle pre-inspection pilot at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, NY, and Fort Erie Ontario, in order to help ease congestion at the second busiest border crossing on the U.S.-Canada border.
In a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, Governor Cuomo outlined the strong rationale for implementing pre-inspection at the Peace Bridge, given the daily delays and congestion experienced by commercial carriers and motorists. Governor Cuomo also outlined the applicability of the innovative, technology-driven border management solution, which addresses geographic constraints of the U.S. Customs Plaza and the availability of substantial processing space on the Canadian side of the border.
"I strongly support pre-inspection at the Peace Bridge and I urge the Department of Homeland Security to do all it can to make this common sense border management solution a reality," Governor Cuomo said. "Such a development would greatly complement our ongoing efforts to improve the congestion situation on the U.S. side of the border, making the Peace Bridge a more efficient and reliable crossing for all the trade and tourism that crosses into Western New York every day."
Commercial pre-inspection is a concept first conceived by the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority. It streamlines the Customs process for commercial carriers by initiating paperwork procedures and primary inspection prior to a vehicle's arrival in the U.S. Such a process would free-up much needed space at the U.S. Customs plaza -- located within the City of Buffalo -- and allow for the more efficient movement of goods and people at the crossing.
U.S. Representative Brian Higgins, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Ranking Member of the US-Canada Interparliamentary Exchange, said, "I commend the Governor for his vision, support and leadership on this priority. Integrating the Western New York economy with Southern Ontario's is crucial, and that is why expanding capacity at the Peace Bridge is so important. Pre-inspection of trucks in Canada can be a key part of the solution, and we have been making the case to the Department of Homeland Security that it should implement pre-inspection at the Peace Bridge."
Sam Hoyt, Chairman of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, said, "In announcing the Beyond the Border Accord initiative this past year, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper challenged their respective Customs agencies and border operators to pioneer new, effective ways to manage the flow of goods and people between the world's two closest trading partners. We answered that call by generating a port management solution that makes sense for the Peace Bridge crossing, one which Governor Cuomo and all members of the New York State Congressional delegation have vigorously advocated for."
Governor Cuomo's letter to DHS further recommends that a decision on the implementation of commercial pre-inspection at the Peace Bridge be fast-tracked to demonstrate an "early win" for the "Beyond the Border Accord" action plan, which is required to meet several benchmarks for improved U.S.-Canada border activity by December 2012.