Cross-border truck cargo pilot moves to second phase

by MM&D Online staff

FORT ERIE, ONTARIO— Phase II of the truck cargo pre-inspection pilot at the Peace Bridge crossing between Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York has been launched. The pilot is a key deliverable under the Beyond the Border Action Plan issued by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama in December 2011.

Canada and the US are using the pilot to test the concept of conducting US Custom and Border Protection (CBP) primary inspection of US-bound truck cargo in Canada in order to better manage their shared border and improve economic opportunities for both countries. The objective of pre-clearance is to expedite the flow of legitimate trade and travel while ensuring border security and integrity.

During the pilot, US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) officers will pre-inspect 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. The project, which creates two new booths on the Canadian side to house CBP officials, is being 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 where it is anticipated they will come to a rolling stop at a USCBP “exit” booth. If the process goes smoothly, they will be given a green light signalling they are free to proceed through the customs plaza en route to their destination. A red light instead 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,” Canadian Trucking Alliance president David Bradley said at the announcement today. “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.”

CTA says the pilot’s measured success will essentially depend on whether the two stops (albeit one being a rolling stop), compared to the current one-stop, will actually speed the flow of trucks across the border and maintain advantages for carriers and drivers operating under the trusted trader program, Free and Secure Trade (FAST).

CTA has received assurances the pilot is adequately resourced and that strategic management of traffic queues will ensure the pre-inspection process will not contribute to delays.

“Everyone wants the pilot to be a success,” says Bradley. “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.”

CTA has been assured it will be consulted throughout the process.

In March 2013, Canada and the US signed the Memorandum of Understanding that enabled the US CBP truck cargo pre-inspection pilot project to take place on Canadian soil. Phase I of the pilot was launched at the Pacific Highway crossing between Surrey, British Columbia and Blaine, Washington in June 2013.