Local
6:00 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Pilot program could ease Peace Bridge congestion

Traffic heading into the U.S. on the Peace Bridge may be moving a little faster Monday. Trucks bound for the United States will be now screened in Fort Erie.

Peace Bridge Plaza
Credit WBFO News file photo

The proposal has been debated for years with federal officials rejecting it based on security concerns. 

Rep. Brian Higgins and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer forced the issue and pushed the Homeland Security Department to allow screening before trucks cross the border.

Some trucks may still have to go through further processing, but an unclear number will be able to do quick stops at the Customs booths and move on.

"It is a way that has been devised to more efficiently move trucks from Canada to the United States while reducing wait times, which is very, very important," Higgins told WBFO News.

"You know the bridge is an unmitigated disaster in terms of its congestion and everything else. You've got all of these initiatives like the NEXUS cards but it doesn't do any good if you are stuck on top of the bridge."

The pilot program will be tested at the Peace Bridge and a crossing north of Seattle. Officials, including Schumer, will give details at a Monday morning press conference.

This week, Higgins is meeting with new Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to pitch for more Customs officers to keep booths staffed. He said too many new officers wind up going to the border with Mexico.