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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Border needs manpower, technology

A new binational study calls for increased use of new technology to speed border crossings and inspections and improved trusted traveler programs Buffalo-Niagara crossings.

The study, expected to be released within two weeks by the Binational Economic and Tourism Alliance, also calls for better traffic conditions information and increased customs staffing during busy times, reports the Buffalo News.

Heightened security measures since Sept. 11 have led to more frequent backups and traffic congestion at the bridges, states the report.

The report cites statistics that show that thickening cross-border congestion costs Canadian trucking companies more than $9 billion. It recommends new technology to make inspections more efficient, such as hand-held scanners, preclearance programs and trusted traveler initiatives.

As well, it calls for more informative highway signs listing the amount of time needed to cross the border at the various bridges.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama have been negotiating a new “Smart Border” program that reportedly could include many of these initiatives.

“There is no magic bullet here, and we’re all responsible for fixing it,” said BETA’s executive director Arlene White.

An estimated $70 billion in trade crossed the region’s bridges in 2010, down from $80 billion in 2008.