Congressman Wants to Know if Border Improvements Already Underway Could Save Homes Slated for Demolition
In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) is asking the Department to examine if new technology currently being installed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow for faster, more efficient border screening and passage would reduce the number of booths needed under the new expansion plan and allow for a smaller plaza that could save a number of homes currently scheduled to be taken through the eminent domain process.
“News of better, more efficient and secure procedures at our borders may provide us an unforeseen opportunity to scale down the existing plaza size and spare some of the homes compromised under the existing plan,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “I am seeking an expeditious report on expected new crossing times so the PBA can consider potential new options and make plans to proceed with construction of the new plaza and bridge in a timely manner.”
The Peace Bridge expansion plan was developed incorporating the existing identification review system, but new efficiencies in the crossing process are underway and has the potential to decrease the need for the 24 booths planned for in the new design, which may in turn allow planners to pull the new plaza footprint out of the neighborhoods under concern.
On July 3, 2008, U.S Customs and Border Protection ran an advertisement in the Buffalo News explaining that beginning on or about July 7th construction would begin at the Peace Bridge to include state-of-the-art technology at the borders to make re-entry into the US more efficient. The new devices will read microchips embedded in advanced forms of identification, including the enhanced driver’s licenses that will be available to New York residents this September. The computers will allow agents to scan rather than manually key in travelers’ identification information.
The future of Buffalo-Niagara regional economy is highly dependent on predictable and efficient access to Southern Ontario, a market of more than 8.1 million people and the second fastest growing economy in North America. According to the U.S. State Department, the US and Canada maintain a bilateral trade volume the equivalent of $1.5 billion in goods each and every day. The Peace Bridge remains the second busiest crossing along the US/Canada border.