traffic snarled at border
By MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT, The Globe and Mail
Friday, September 13, 2001
FORT ERIE, ONT. --
Trucker Rob Shewan had been waiting yesterday for 13 hours to
cross into the United States to deliver his trailer load of
aluminum bars from Woodstock, Ont., to a wheel-making plant in
Stuck at this border crossing, he's fretting that the
company receiving his cargo of metal might have to close if he
doesn't get there soon.
"I believe that plant will have been shut down because they
will not have been able to get material to process," Mr.
Mr. Shewan was among more than 1,000 big-rig operators
caught in a massive traffic tie up at the Fort Erie border
crossing yesterday as economic activity between Canada and the
United States, the world's most active trading partners,
slowed to a crawl.
Some of the worst delays were at Fort Erie, waiting to get
on the Peace Bridge to the United States, but long waits were
also experienced at Sarnia and Windsor.
The problems of the delayed truckers are some of the
biggest economic collateral damage from the attack using
hijacked planes to slam into the Pentagon and New York's World
U.S. customs inspectors have been ordered to conduct more
extensive searches and identity checks, causing huge delays
for businesses dependent on moving their goods across the
More than $1-billion in trade is exchanged between Canada
and the United States every day. The vast majority moves in
trucks, like Mr. Shewan's big 18-wheel tractor trailer. There
are about 14 million truck trips across the Canada-U.S. border
At one point early yesterday morning, Niagara Regional
Police estimated that nearly 1,200 big rigs were waiting to
cross at this Canadian border city on their way to
destinations south of the border.
The delays are the worst veteran truckers have ever
experienced, costing the economy an estimated $1-million an
hour in lost productivity and other expenses, according to one
The story at Fort Erie was duplicated at other busy
Canada-U.S. border crossings, according to industry
"I'm hearing from our provincial associations in Quebec and
B.C., in particular, but across the country, that they're
facing delays," said David Bradley, chief executive officer of
the Canadian Trucking Alliance, a trade association.