08.02.06

Schumer: Thousand Island Bridge At Alexandria Bay Right Place For Innovative Border Crossing Plan That Keeps Traffic Moving While Maintaining Secure Border

Plans for US-Canada Shared Border Management Already Underway At Buffalo BorderSchumer Urges US Customs and Top Canadian Officials to Select Alexandria Bay as The Second Pilot Project In Shared Border Management ProgramWith Major Logistical Constraints on Canadian Side, Thousand Island Crossing Is Ideal Site; Would Alleviate Traffic Congestion and Keep Commercial Traffic Flowing

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced he is supporting Alexandria Bay for the second site for implementation of a Shared Border Management plan at the U.S.Canadian border. Schumer lobbied aggressively to launch the first pilot program at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, where the inspection facility will be on the Canadian side of the border. A 2004 agreement brokered by Schumer requires a second border site at which the customs facility is located on the U.S. side and today Schumer said Alexandria Bay should be selected.

From both security and economic perspectives, Alexandria Bay makes the most sense for Shared Border Management, said Schumer. A joint U.S.Canadian facility on the US side of the border will allow law enforcement agencies to work closely together without hurting trade and commercial traffic. The Thousand Islands Crossing is the right place for the implementation of the second pilot project in shared border management, and now is the time to implement it.

Schumer led the charge to bring the U.S. and Canadian governments together, lobbying them for years to develop a joint customs and border management plan for Northern Border crossings. Under the original agreement between the U.S. and Canadian governments, it was determined that there would be two pilot sites for the plan: the first at the Peace Bridge, and a second at a yettobe decided location suitable for Shared Border Management. In a statement issued at the time of the agreement, the Department of Homeland Security named the Thousand Islands Bridge as a possible second site.

Under a Shared Border Management plan, all of the U.S. and Canadian border facilities are located on one side of the border. The pilot at the Peace Bridge will involve the relocation of all U.S. primary and secondary border operations for both commercial and passenger traffic from Buffalo to Fort Erie. Similarly, at the second location, Canadian border functions will be moved to the U.S. side of the border. Relocating all facilities to one side of the crossing is designed to improve the flow of information between both U.S. and Canadian security officials and to make the operations more efficient to improve traffic over the border.

Schumer today wrote to the top U.S. and Canadian official to tout Alexandria Bay as the ideal site for the second Shared Border Management initiative. Schumer wrote to Deputy Secretary Designate of Homeland Security Michael Jackson and The Canadian Deputy Prime Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The two governments are currently developing details of Shared Border Management at the Peace Bridge and are still evaluating options for the second location.

The Thousand Islands Crossing is the right place for the implementation of the second pilot project in shared border management, and now is the time to implement it. This border crossing is the gateway of The Capital Corridor" an initiative that involves governments, industry and the private sector and would link Ottawa and Washington, DC, through this border crossing. In 2004 approximately $12 billion in trade between Canada and the U.S. went through this crossing, making it the fourth most important gateway between the two countries. Unfortunately, the geographic limitations on the Canadian side of the crossing severely limit the flow of traffic and impede trade. With the current project to expand the US side of the gateway well underway, it is the perfect time to begin planning a joint US Canadian facility on the US side of the border.

Building both Shared Border Management sites in New York makes the most sense, Schumer said. Once everything is up and running, we can study how well this working and customs officials can collaborate to develop the most effective and efficient crossings.

Shared Border Management at this crossing will allow U.S. and Canadian law enforcement agencies to work more closely together and further cooperation. It would also allow for the further implementation of improved technology, which are currently hindered by the severe site restrictions on the Canadian side of the crossing. The current Canadian inspection facility lacks sufficient capacity to process the high volumes of passenger traffic that use the crossing. This is especially true during the summer months when travels frequently wait more than two hours during high volume periods.



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