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Higgins announces completion of phase I pre-inspection pilot project at U.S./Canada border

by jmaloni

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Tue, Jan 7th 2014 10:45 am

Phase II to begin soon at Peace Bridge

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced completion of the first phase of a pilot project to streamline traffic and the flow of goods across the border between the U.S. and Canada. Phase II will soon begin at the Peace Bridge.

"The success of phase I provides evidence that, through this coordinated binational partnership, we can more efficiently move people and vehicles across our shared border," Higgins said. "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 "Beyond the Border" agreement between the U.S. and Canada called for, among other things, better coordination at land border crossings between the two countries. Phase I of a pilot project to allow for U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to pre-inspect trucks coming into the U.S. in Canada began June 17 at the Pacific Highway crossing between Blaine, Wash., and Surry, B.C.

In a February 2012 committee hearing with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Higgins pushed for the Peace Bridge to be included in the pilot project to study pre-inspection at the northern border.

CBP recently announced the completion of the first phase of the pilot project and found the concept to be "feasible." It will soon begin phase II, which will take place at the Peace Bridge crossing between Buffalo and Fort Erie. The pre-inspection pilot at the Peace Bridge may be in effect for up to a year and, according to CBP, "will test the ability of the pre-inspection process to reduce wait times and border congestion - streamlining the flow of cross-border trade that is vital to both country's economies."

In Washington, D.C., Higgins recently met with representatives from CBP. He learned wait times at the Peace Bridge have nearly doubled in the past year. Subsequently, Higgins and Rep. Chris Collins sent a letter to the CBP acting commissioner calling for staffing shortages at the bridges to be alleviated.

Higgins is a member of the House committees on homeland security and foreign affairs. He serves on the US-Canada Interparliamentary Exchange and Northern Border Caucus. His district covers portions of the border between Western New York and Ontario, including the Peace Bridge.

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