July 20th, 2024

New report urges standardized hours for Wild Horse border crossing

By Medicine Hat News on March 8, 2017.

A report into the economic potential of the Wild Horse border crossing says an initial step to standardize hours year-round could cost governments “no more” than $500,000, but would save trucking companies more than $1 million annually.

Currently the port south of Medicine Hat operates with different winter and summer hours, but for decades politicians have argued that longer, standardized hours would lead to increased use.

Last year the Van Horne Institute at the University of Calgary was hired to study the economic case, which was released on Wednesday.

“The business case clearly demonstrates the value in making service changes at the Port of Wild Horse,” Medicine Hat Mayor Ted Clugston said in a statement.

“This project should be on the ‘must-do’ list for the federal governments on both sides of the border,” said Tim Solomon, the mayor of Havre, Mont.

Currently, the port is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October to mid-May, then until 9 p.m. during the summer. Commercial traffic can only cross 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. year round, but not on weekends.

The 62-page report states that moving to standard 13-hour window each day could cost $200,000 in additional wages for border guards. Setting up digital load manifests and inspection services would also add some costs.

However, transport companies surveyed stated the ability to make return trips or reach the port before closing.

About 3,300 loads per year could be diverted to the port in eastern Alberta, saving time and mileage. As well, it would reduce congestion at Coutts/Sweetgrass crossing, which currently handles 90 per cent of the traffic between Alberta and Montana.

Major loads include agricultural products, fertilizer, refined petroleum and equipment needed in oil and gas development.

The report also recommends eventually harmonizing trucking and road standards on Highway 41 in Alberta and Highway 232 in Montana at least to the railyard in Havre.

Trucking companies surveyed said that they would stated the need for improvements to Highway 41, south of the Trans-Canada Highway.

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