ST. STEPHEN, N.B. — A recent government report says that trucks carrying hazardous materials through the narrow downtown streets of St. Stephen are a disaster waiting to happen.
With at least two-dozen commercial trucks carrying hazardous materials over the St. Stephen-Calais border every day, the potential for a catastrophe is driving the need for a new border crossing.
A Calais-St. Stephen border crossing environmental assessment, obtained through Access to Information legislation, identifies hazardous materials as a major concern for the New Brunswick and Maine governments.
The current border crossing requires trucks to navigate their way through the treacherous course at Customs inspection booths in addition to waiting through the bottlenecks. At times, the report says, trucks have collided with other vehicles, scraped buildings, slid down icy hills and broken axles trying to make sharp turns.
According to the report, the current crossing and customs facilities can’t handle the traffic volumes and the congestion could only compound the problem if a situation did arise.
The Calais border is the eighth busiest border between Canada and the U.S. for commercial vehicles, and since Sept. 11 of last year, the traffic jams have become even worse with the added security and hazardous material checks.
The report says the new more efficient and safer border crossing cannot come soon enough.
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