We Need A New Billion Dollar DRIC Bridge Project Because..
There really are better things to do with the money.
Of course, we are never told very much about the reality of new technology and processes that are being developed such that in effect we will no longer have a border because Customs will be virtually eliminated for many vehicles. Part of the objectives of Customs on both sides of the river is to remove Customs clearance away from the border in the first place. If all of this was publicized too much, then the $60 million plus DRIC study that is trying to justify billions of dollars of expenditures might be tossed into the garbage.
Here are a couple of items I thought you might be interested in.
- New NEXUS card offers security
NEXUS border-crossing cards are changing to add security, though a U.S. government official says they should also help speed the process.
Sometime in the fall, current NEXUS cards -- in use for five years to help regular commuters move quickly across the border -- will be swapped for second-generation NEXUS cards.
"It's leaps and bounds more secure," Chief Ron Smith of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday. "But beyond the security issue it will also make us more efficient."
Smith said the new cards are being issued in conjunction with the introduction of new card readers that improve upon the radio-frequency-identification-device technology -- which can read nearby cards without having to swipe them...
Furthermore, the new U.S. card readers can handle more information, making them faster. With the previous system, the card readers could only identify one or two people at the same time. With the updated system, the readers will be able to identify four NEXUS commuters in one car all at once...
About 355,000 people currently hold NEXUS cards. Both Canadian and American officials hope that number will climb significantly, since NEXUS cardholders typically cross land borders with less delay than those using other government-issued ID."
Here is a news item from a trucking trade journal that most people would never see where the results are much more dramatic. If the numbers are correct up to six times the volume of trucks can be processed with the same number of Customs booths as today:
- "Border delays a concern to B.C. governmentVANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Canadian and US federal governments need to move faster to fix the delays truckers face at border crossings, according to John van Dongen, B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor-General, a story published by the Vancouver Sun states.
At a major intergovernmental conference on July 21, van Dongen said that while governments have moved to implement programs that expedite the passage of "trusted travellers" across the border, he still sees long lineups at the Fraser Valley's Pacific border crossing. He contends that those lineups result in fewer vehicles taking more time to get across, "which represents huge lost dollars."
The situation has improved over the past four years, according to other speakers at the breakout session of the Pacific North West Economic Region (PNWER) conference in Vancouver, a government-funded advocacy group representing eight states and provinces in the northwest. Van Dongen said that while things are moving in the right direction, "Rome is burning while we're trying to get this stuff implemented."
The issue of the border, which has become a stickier line to cross in the security-conscious 9/11 era, was a key topic of discussion at the PNWER annual meeting, which brings together top government and business representatives to talk about common issues. Van Dongen serves as one of PNWER's vice-presidents.
The potential for visitors to Vancouver and Whistler's Olympics in 2010 to face delays dominated a morning session on border issues. Premier Gordon Campbell reprised that theme as part of his keynote address during lunch. Recalling an uncomfortably long wait for transportation at the 2004 Athens Olympics that still sticks out in his memory, Campbell said he wants to make sure the thing that people don't remember about the 2010 Games, is a long wait at the border to get into Canada.
Campbell credited PNWER with advancing the border delay issue with both the Canadian and US federal governments, and pushing for innovative solutions, such as enhanced drivers' licences, which are being piloted by Washington and B.C. as acceptable border identification.
Cargo crossing the border was the afternoon topic, when it was mentioned strides have been made towards improving the two-way flow. Kelly Johnston, vice-president of government affairs for the food conglomerate Campbell's Soup Co., said the big problems - where trucks could face eight-hour delays at the border - are gone.
"(Crossing the border) has gotten better," he said. "But is it better than before 9/11? No. Definitely we've added more fees, more complexities and more programs," he added.
The Canada Border Services Agency is in the midst of implementing a $396-million pre-arrival notification program aimed at streamlining truck and rail shipments coming into Canada. It's called eManifest. Under the program, shippers will be required to notify Canada Border Services electronically that they are sending trucks or rail cars to the border, tell them what freight is in the containers, who the driver or crew is, and how they will be crossing at least an hour before the containers arrive at the crossing. Feniak said it will be an extension of the pre-arrival notification programs that ship borne and airborne cargo is subjected to now.
The idea is to give border officials time to review documentation for shipments, conduct risk assessments and make decisions about clearing shipments or flagging them for secondary inspection before vehicles arrive. Feniak added that it should reduce the time it takes for a truck to get past the crossing to about 30 seconds from the one to three minutes it takes now, which should help reduce border lineups.
"It rewards compliance with predictability at the border," Feniak said.
He added that the program will be phased in over three years. The first phase, this fall, will be to educate shippers on the steps they will need to take to comply.
Van Dongen said anything, like e-Manifest, that moves checking loads or decisions on which shipments need secondary inspection away from the border point are good strategies, but they just need to be put in place faster.
"I know they feel they're moving quickly with a three-year implementation," van Dongen added. "But we've got to work harder to shorten that up."
Someone needs to explain the logic behind DRIC and what seems to be a compulsion to spend money when there is no reason to do so. That logic is even more questionable in this area where the automotive industry is dying. I'm sure that you remember the horror stories given by various ministers and the media about an auto part crossing the border seven or eight times before the final vehicle is built. Does that still seem to be an issue now with all the plants closing down?
As I will explain in another BLOG, what is ludicrous about the DRIC process is that it does not solve Windsor's main problem. Do you want to know the funny part... the new DRIC Customs Plaza inbound into Canada will have 29 lanes to handle all of the increased traffic that is supposed to come here over the next 30 years or more.
I asked the DRIC people recently if they knew how many lanes there were at the Ambassador Bridge today to handle inbound traffic. Their guess was perhaps 20 lanes. The actual answer is 29!
Do you see what I mean and what I have been saying for so long? The issue in Windsor/Detroit is nothing more than trying to force the Owner of the Bridge Company to sell out cheaply so that the Canadian Government can take over the border crossing and give it to some other private enterprise P3 partner. Perhaps to the Tunnel P3 partner in a single source deal!
Why else is the Conservative Government expert in P3's, Senator Fortier involved in the border file.
Nothing more, nothing less.