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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is editor and publisher of the Stanstead Journal.
Posted 10.09.02
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Get rid of truck lineups at border

One accident does not a crisis make. But the recent wreck on Autoroute 55 north of the border points to a real problem at the Stanstead crossing when a Vermonter slammed into the back of a parked 18-wheeler.

For years, trucks have lined for kilometres down the autoroute waiting to be cleared at U.S. Customs for entry into the United States. For starters, this clogs up a full lane on a provincial highway, which makes no sense.

Adding to the problem is the behavior of the truckers. Many do not put on their flashing lights as they wait in line. It is too soon to tell but this may have led to Tuesday's victim piling into the bumper of the truck. Worse is the fact that the truckers, despite markings on the road, block the exits. Even last night, as emergency vehicles were coming to and from the scene, trucks were blocking the exit at the Notre-Dame Boulevard crossing. This is not only inconsiderate but could be dangerous when time is crucial in an emergency.

The source of the problem, though, is at U.S. Customs. These facilities were built over 30 years ago and were not designed for the truck traffic there is today. Nor was there a thought that security would be as tight entering the States as it is today. In short, U.S. Customs can't handle the volume.

Canada Customs is meeting the challenge of increased traffic by expanding its Autoroute 55 facility. U.S. Customs should follow suit, creating a bigger facility with more lanes for trucks and more personnel to handle them.

On this side, the Quebec government could help out by creating a third southbound lane back up to the first Stanstead exit. This would be an expensive proposition but prudent in the long run. And finally, the province could undertake the much cheaper and simpler task of erecting a sign with flashing lights to warn drivers that trucks are stopped on the autoroute ahead.

The last victim walked away from the crash. The next one may not be so lucky.

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