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Higgins Asks Federal Agencies for Action on Peace Bridge Plaza Plan

Nov 1, 2011
Press Release

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) is asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner to begin the process of allowing pre-inspection at the Peace Bridge, a critical step to moving forward with construction on the smaller Peace Bridge plaza plan. 

“Continued federal foot dragging is unacceptable,” said Higgins, a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security.  “This plan is an opportunity to literally open up the gates to economic opportunity for Western New York and the nation. This community wants action, this country needs action, and that is what we are demanding.”

Federal commitment to pre-inspection on the Canadian side of the border would allow the Peace Bridge Authority to proceed with construction of a new plaza that would provide 7 additional inspection booths on a modified but smaller plaza than originally proposed. 

The Honorable Janet Napolitano                      The Honorable Alan Bersin
Secretary                                                           Commissioner
Department of Homeland Security                   Customs and Border Protection
3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW                           1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NY
Washington, D.C. 20393                                Washington, D.C. 20229

Re: Peace Bridge Capacity Expansion Project

Secretary Napolitano and Commissioner Bersin,

In June, I received from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) a commitment to support a smaller footprint for the Peace Bridge Land Port of Entry and work with the Peace Bridge Authority (PBA) so that they have the guidance necessary to begin this project expeditiously.  I am concerned that months later, there has been no demonstrable progress on these negotiations between CBP and the PBA.

It is with regret and frustration that I am compelled to point out that we have been here before with this Department and its representative agencies.  Last year, we faced delay after delay from officials within DHS and CBP on ascertaining whether support could be committed to a plaza plan that was crafted pursuant to CBP’s specifications.  Only after significant pressure was there finally a response that the Agency could not commit to the proposal.  This dashed years of planning and funding put forth by the PBA and the State of New York.

Now I fear here we are at a similar crossroads again.  A new proposal sits before you that will improve the project by implementing prescreening of trucks on the Canadian side of the bridge and has the universal support of the Western New York Congressional delegation and a broad cross-section of the community.  Yet, from all accounts, your department continues to move at a glacial pace in giving the PBA guidance on exactly what specifications are necessary to approve the prescreening plan.
 
Frankly, the community that I serve in Buffalo and Western New York deserves more.  And given the significant amount of effort we have put forth to explain how absolutely crucial this project is to the region’s future, I expect a much greater degree of activity from your staff.  It is not an overstatement to say that our regional economy hangs in the balance, nor is it too much to expect the federal government to recognize this and act with a corresponding level of enthusiasm.

Therefore I respectfully and strongly request that DHS and CBP engage in serious discussions with the PBA on in furtherance of moving toward a final plan for the plaza and prescreening lanes that will allow this project to advance.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,



BRIAN HIGGINS
Member of Congress


Cc: Robert A. Peck, Commissioner, Public Buildings Service, General Services Administration


Congressman Higgins is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Committee on Homeland Security and its subcommittees on Border and Maritime Security & Counterterrorism and Intelligence.  He also serves as a member of the Northern Border Caucus and the U.S. Canada Interparlementary Exchange.