FORT ERIE, ON — Canadian and U.S. officials today announced the start of a one year truck pre-inspection pilot project at the Peace Bridge crossing from Fort Erie, ON to Buffalo, NY.
After years of negotiations between the governments of Canada and the United States, the two countries are taking the first step towards what might lead to land pre-clearance for trucks at certain border crossings.
The point is to see if border crossing for trucks going into the U.S. can be simplified by officials pre-inspecting the vehicle on the Canadian side to avoid backups on the bridge.
The initiative could be of help at land crossings where geographic factors and other issues affect the ability to conduct efficient inspections on one side of the border or another. At the Peace Bridge, for example, there are size limitations on the customs plaza on the Buffalo side.
During the pilot, US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) officers will pre-inspect trucks entering the United States on the Canadian side. The project creates two new booths on the Canadian side to house CBP officials, which is funded by the Peace Bridge Authority.
After being processed on the Canadian side, trucks that take part in the pilot will proceed across the bridge and come to a rolling stop at a USCBP “exit” booth. If the process goes smoothly, they will be given a green light signalling they’re free to proceed through the customs plaza en route to their destination. A red light signals the truck must be brought to a complete stop for further processing.
“The trucking industry has a keen interest in facilitating the shipment of goods across the Canada-US border while maintaining security,” said Canadian Trucking Alliance President David Bradley. “The Peace Bridge pilot is indicative of innovative new thinking and its outcome is therefore of great importance to us and to the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship.”
The success of the project depends on whether the two stop process will speed the flow of trucks across the border compared to the current one-stop while at the same time maintain advantages for carriers and drivers operating under the trusted trader program, Free and Secure Trade (FAST).
“Everyone wants the pilot to be a success,” Bradley said. “But if things don’t go as planned, or there are some unintended consequences, it is important that the protocols are in place to take the necessary corrective action on a timely basis and in communication with industry.”
For a run-down of the process from start to finish, see theCTA’s video.