Advanced inspection station nears completion near border

by Carroll McCormick

MONTREAL, Que. – With the installation of variable message signs in December for the new border control station just north of the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border between Quebec’s A-15 and New York state’s I-87, its scheduled spring 2007 opening and full operational status by fall should be welcomed by truckers.

Once the station is operational, Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ) computers will make what will amount to a risk assessment of Quebec- and New York state-registered trucks (86% of all the truck traffic) and decide which will be instructed by the signs to come into the station for inspections, and which trucks will be allowed to sail past.

The system will improve traffic fluidity: more truckers will get back onto the Quebec road network and en route to their destinations with fewer delays.

Unlike the other weigh/inspection stations in Quebec, which sweep in trucks regardless of their reputations, the Lacolle station computers will dig into SAAQ databases for information on each truck gearing up as it leaves the Lacolle border crossing and decide whether to direct it into the station or not.

The computers will take eight seconds to make a decision once optical recognition cameras just this side of the border identify trucks by reading their licence plates, or trucks are ID’d by their transponder signals and Weigh in Motion (WIM) sensors in the pavement weigh each axle load, calculate the spread between each axle and determine weight compliance.

Records of delinquency in a trucking company’s dossier, and other secret must-have data that authorities collect in these security-ubersensitive days can trigger a message on the sign that the truck must visit the station.

“With the cameras, transponders, wire loops in the road, we can tell who, where and when,” says Jacques Chapdelaine, director of Service du control routier, St-Jean.

“If everything is okay, the truck will be allowed to pass.”

Inspectors in the station will have 10 seconds to override the computer’s decision if they spot something amiss, or otherwise judge that they should pull in a truck.

Trucks can be subject to any of 13 kinds of inspections, including logbooks, special permits, secure loads and fuel taxes.

Full mechanical truck inspections can be done in four outdoor inspection bays and in a huge two-truck bay.

Inspections will be Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance-standardized, a North American protocol, taking from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

“Once you are inside you get checked for everything,” says Chapdelaine.

Some 2,000 trucks cross the border in each direction every day, making Lacolle the sixth-busiest in Canada.

According to SAAQ, the Americans will be building a similar station on their side, due to open in 2009, further improving cross-border traffic flow. Although the current data-sharing agreement is only between Quebec and New York state, meaning that controllers will be more likely to stop unrecognized trucks, future agreements can be made with other jurisdictions.

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