04.19.00

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES INCREASED CUSTOMS STAFFING AT PEACE BRIDGE

Senator Says New Officials Will Be On The Job By End Of June

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced the hiring of 25 new summer customs inspectors for Buffalo and Niagara Falls, increasing the total number of summer inspectors to 77. Last year, Schumer brought US Customs Commissioner Raymond Kelly to the Peace Bridge to examine the traffic delays there and to highlight the need for additional summer inspectors at that customs checkpoint.

"These new customs agents will play a crucial role in the effort to ease the traffic congestion that has plagued the Northern Border's international crossings over the last decade," Schumer said. "These new agents will help boost the area's commerce and tourism by shortening the amount of time it takes to get into and out of Canada."

Schumer has worked to increase customs staffing at border crossings in order to improve the flow of commerce and tourism in Western New York and to reduce traffic delays. These delays have resulted from the combination of understaffed customs facilities and an increase in traffic over the past decade.

Buffalo and Niagara Falls combine to make Western New York the second busiest point of entry along the United States' Northern Border. During the last decade, border traffic and inspections in the Buffalo District have increased annually, peaking at 31 million passengers, 7.4 million cars and 1.1 million commercial vehicles in 1998.

"The economic revitalization of Buffalo and Western New York depends heavily on the region's ability to become an international trading center," Schumer said. "For that to happen, customs facilities need the resources and personnel to keep people and goods flowing smoothly and efficiently. These 25 new hires bring us one step closer to these important goals."

Although Kelly committed to hiring new inspectors at the time of his visit, bureaucratic delays in processing their background checks heldup their actual start until this summer. The 25 new customs officials will bring the total number of seasonal officials in the Buffalo region to 77 by the end of June, including 27 inspectors at the Peace Bridge. They will work until the end of September and will then return in the spring of 2001. Schumer is continuing to work for other bridge improvements, including more fulltime staff.

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