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Commercial Pre-Inspection Pilot Launches at Peace Bridge

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FEBRUARY 24, 2014

BUFFALO, NY/FORT ERIE, ON – Today the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (PBA) announced the official commencement of the Phase 2 Commercial Pre-inspection Pilot at the Peace Bridge international border crossing for U.S.-bound trucks. The pilot is being conducted as a partnership between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Canada's Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the PBA. This announcement, part of the bi-national U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border Accord, follows the successful conclusion of the Phase 1 "Proof of Concept" Commercial Pre-inspection Pilot previously conducted in Blaine, Washington.

"The Peace Bridge Authority has long-championed the pre-inspection concept, as it provides a truly innovative, technology-driven solution to border management," said Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority Chairman Anthony Annunziata. "When fully implemented beyond the pilot phase—which we hope to be the positive conclusion of this testing effort—the concept will provide real, immediate, and much-needed congestion relief at the Peace Bridge corridor. Pre-inspection can vastly improve the way our border functions, without sacrificing the security, sovereignty, or trade prowess of Canada and the United States."

"Pre-inspection is an important component of ongoing efforts to advance several important projects at the Peace Bridge, all of which will lead to a more functional and efficient border crossing," said PBA Vice Chairman Sam Hoyt. "Success in the commercial pre-inspection pilot phase, coupled with more efficient ingress and egress patterns for traffic, will greatly improve the U.S. Customs plaza from an operational perspective and also reduce related vehicle congestion impacts on adjacent neighborhood areas."

About the Peace Bridge Commercial Pre-inspection Pilot

The concept of Peace Bridge pre-inspection for U.S.-bound commercial cargo vehicles—often referred to as "pre-processing"—dates back nearly 20 years to the 1995 Shared Border Accord. Over that time, pre-inspection has evolved as a result of various bilateral agreements and operational advancements, including the development of the Ontario-based Peace Bridge Commercial Vehicle Processing Centre, and extensive border security and procedural changes that followed the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

After the abandonment of "Shared Border Management" negotiations due to sovereignty issues in the 2004-2008 timeframe, a renewed effort ensued to advance a more streamlined pre-inspection process that would relocate primary inspection facilities to available staging space on the Canadian side of the border at the Peace Bridge, while retaining secondary processing and enforcement activities within the current U.S. Customs plaza.

This relocation of primary processing will help address various Peace Bridge U.S. Customs Plaza inadequacies, including: constrained space and congestion, limited commercial booths, a mobile versus permanent commercial vehicle x-ray equipment area, and conflicting traffic patterns for both cars and trucks.

In January 2014, the PBA completed a $1 million construction project consisting of a secure U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-inspection pilot pad, inspection booths, offices, parking, and secure access. All pilot test processing will be done at these primary commercial inspection booths with a "go/no go" message transmitted to an enforcement booth in the U.S. Customs plaza (via a dedicated pre-inspection lane). Participating vehicles will either be released upon contact or sent to x-ray, secondary inspection, or for broker assistance. At no time will the commercial vehicle driver be aware of his/her status as a "go/no go" shipment until arriving to the enforcement booth. More succinctly, under the pilot, processing will be completed in Canada and enforcement will take place in the U.S. Given that over 90% of commercial traffic is "line-released" and does not require any type of additional processing/vetting, a full implementation of the concept at the Peace Bridge could have very positive impacts on overall plaza truck and auto congestion, circulation, and current space flexibility.

To get more information on the Commercial Pre-inspection Pilot or to view applicable facility photos/concept diagrams, visit www.peacebridgerenovation.com.

To view a pre-inspection "how to" video produced by the Ontario Trucking Association, click here.

About the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority

The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, a bi-national bridge authority, has owned and operated the Peace Bridge since 1933. The bridge, which was opened to traffic in 1927, spans the Niagara River between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York, and is a key international border crossing.

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