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Higgins, Collins call on Customs & Border Protection to alleviate Peace Bridge staffing shortages

by jmaloni

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Fri, Dec 20th 2013 08:30 pm

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, and Congressman Chris Collins, R-NY-27, wrote to Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Thomas Winkowski to inquire about staffing deficits at the Peace Bridge that cause delays and unreasonably long wait times.

"Western New York's economy relies on the ease and accessibility of moving people and goods across the border," Higgins said. "If congestion at the Peace Bridge is impeding cross-border commerce, this is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. I am committed to making sure we take the steps necessary to ease these delays."

"Unreasonably long wait times and delays at the Peace Bridge are more than just an inconvenience to travelers, they are a direct hit to our local economy," Collins said. "Stats show wait time at the Peace Bridge has doubled from year to year, and the scope of this problem at similar crossing points - such as the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge - remains unclear. CBP needs to focus on addressing this growing problem before it weakens the economy of Western New York."

In the letter, the congressmen note increasing delays at the Peace Bridge pose a significant threat to the Western New York region's economy, writing, in part: "Every year the bridge facilitates the transport of over $30 billion in commerce across the Niagara River, spurring $227.4 billion in economic activity, and supporting one million jobs."

Additionally:

•Canadians purchase approximately 20 percent of Buffalo Bills and 24 percent of Buffalo Sabres season tickets;

•38 percent of airline passengers flying out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport are Canadian; and

•More than 3,000 Canadian students attend college in the Buffalo/Niagara region

Last week, Higgins and Collins met with representatives from CBP in Washington, D.C., to express their concerns with wait times at the Peace Bridge.

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