LACOLLE, Que. - Truckers should eventually enjoy improved service and throughput at the Champlain-Lacolle border crossing between Quebec and New York.This is a result of an agreement announced in Dece...
LACOLLE, Que. – Truckers should eventually enjoy improved service and throughput at the Champlain-Lacolle border crossing between Quebec and New York.
This is a result of an agreement announced in December, 2001 formally launching development of the economic corridor between Quebec and New York.
As much as $130 million will be spent by the two partners to improve the transportation infrastructure at the border. The trucking industry can also expect major improvements in the northbound I-87 and the southbound A-15 tying into the crossing.
The value of trade between Quebec and New York was US$10 billion in 2000, and 43 per cent of all trucks crossing from Quebec into the U.S. use the Champlain-Lacolle border facility. More than 620,000 transport trucks a year used the crossing in the mid-nineties, according to a Montreal Transport Management Plan published in 2000.
The transportation improvements are part of a comprehensive agreement to develop the resources and promote commerce and industry between Quebec and its neighbor to the south. The Quebec Chamber of Commerce is acting on behalf of this province’s interests for the Quebec-New York corridor. The Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce forms the other half of the equation, with all of the activities to strengthen the port of entry coordinated by the Quebec-New York Corridor Coordinating Council.
Meetings and press conferences held before the December announcement of the economic corridor agreement increase the likelihood that the trucking industry can look forward to significant improvements in the north-south flow of its trucks.
For example, in a Nov. 29 meeting, Quebec Premier Bernard Landry and Governor George Pataki acknowledged the need to improve the infrastructure of the trade corridor and the use of technologies in ensuring a smooth flow of traffic, especially with the tightening of security since September 11. Then on Dec. 3, Transport Minister Guy Chevrette announced an investment of Cdn$75 million to develop the economic potential of the economic corridor formed by I-87 and A-15. At the same time, the New York State Transportation Commissioner Joseph Boardman announced American projects worth over US$35 million.
Boardman says he is optimistic, given these high level meetings and the acknowledgement of the importance of this economic corridor, the necessary improvements for smoothing the flow of goods will, in fact, be made.
Chevrette insists a comprehensive project for improving access to the Champlain-Lacolle border crossing has been developed – although he has yet to reveal many details about the project. It does include the following: the possibility of a dedicated southbound lane on the A15 to the border for heavy vehicles; a Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec control facility on the A15 for northbound traffic; better road signage from the Champlain Bridge in Montreal to the border, which will help inform and direct users to the crossing facilities; the implementation of information technologies to improve the flow of commercial vehicles across the border and; and new traffic systems that will warn drivers of bottlenecks and poor road conditions.
The project also includes a host of other improvements to the A15, the development of a wayside park five kilometres north of the border and a multilingual reception terminal.
Unfortunately, projects on both sides of the border still require funding from their respective federal governments, so exactly what gets approved remains to be seen.
On the Quebec side, there are hopes to upgrade the A15 and improve the Champlain-Lacolle crossing itself. If all goes according to plan, construction of a “Port of Excellence” will begin in 2003 or 2004. Although details so far are sketchy, the idea is to build a border crossing facility that will easily handle the cross-border traffic, and which is customer friendly.
Sometime this year a border summit will be held at Champlain-Lacolle, where the government and industry will identify what needs to be done to create this Port of Excellence. Once everyone has a better understanding of the demands placed on the border crossing, they will create a wish list of features the new facility should have in the way of appropriate facilities, technology and customer service.
The council also wants to improve truck transportation across the border this year by having more U.S. Customs inspectors posted to the border facility.
The economic corridor includes all of Quebec and New York, but the key geographical area is the St.Lawrence, Richelieu, Champlain and Hudson Valleys. All forms of transportation linking these areas have been targeted to improve.