At Homeland Security Hearing, Higgins Asks DHS Secretary to Use Peace Bridge as Location for Pre-Inspection Pilot
Feb 15, 2012
In a meeting of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) pushed for the Peace Bridge to be included in a plan to initiate pre-inspection to speed the flow of traffic along the northern border. Higgins, a member of the committee, directed his comments to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a meeting discussing the proposed 2013 budget.
The Beyond the Border Action Plan set forth a proposal for at least one pre-inspection pilot project for trucks crossing into Canada from the United States. In his comments to Secretary Napolitano Higgins stressed, as one of the busiest Northern Border Crossing, the Peace Bridge should be considered as a location for this pilot.
In her response the Secretary said they envision not just one but two sites for pre-inspection and stated specifically that a strong case has been made for the Peace Bridge.
Higgins applauded this new development and appreciated the serious consideration being given to the site, “Improving the flow of goods and traffic across the Peace Bridge should be an economic priority for this nation. The Buffalo Niagara region is within 500 miles of 55% of the U.S. population and 62% of the Canadian population. Opening up the bottleneck at this binational transportation corridor is crucial to our interconnected economies.”
This week, Higgins also sent a letter to the Secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Transportation requesting that construction of a new Peace Bridge be included in the 5-year binational Beyond the Border Infrastructure Investment plan. A copy of the letter is below:
February 13, 2012
Dear Secretary Napolitano and Secretary LaHood,
Thank you again for your significant efforts in preparing and implementing the Beyond the Board Action Plan. As you work with your Canadian partners in preparing a Border Infrastructure Investment Plan progress report, I urge you to include a new second span at the Peace Bridge crossing in Buffalo, New York on your five year prospectus.
In January, the Federal Highway Administration officially ended the environmental review for a proposed Peace Bridge capacity expansion project that would have included both a new second span and a renovated plaza complex. While this process came to an end, and the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority will commence with a revised plaza renovation project not requiring federal review, the need for a new bridge remains.
The Peace Bridge is already the second busiest border crossing between the United States and Canada. With merely three lanes (and functionally only two with heavy truck traffic), the efficiency of the border crossing will remain an issue. As the principal connection between the New York State Thruway and the Queen Elizabeth Way, the Peace Bridge is strategically located and will continue to be one of the most important economic connections between the United States and Canada in the future.
The need for a second span is clear and the five year Border Infrastructure Investment Plan should clearly contemplate it. I strongly urge you to include such an expansion at the Peace Bridge as you develop the first progress report.
Thank you. I look forward to working with you on this effort.