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On the bridges into U.S., a wait too long

Pat DeBlase was trying to figure out the smartest plan of attack.

"I should pick up some food," she said, considering the options: McDonald's or Tim Hortons.

They probably wouldn't have anything healthy, she worried, but an hour and a half in traffic is a long time to go without food.

DeBlase was one of the thousands of drivers delayed for more than an hour as she tried to return to the United States from Canada. Holiday traffic caused delays of up to two hours on the Peace and Bridge Lewiston-Queenston Bridge on Sunday and up to one hour on the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls.

Officials attributed the increased traffic to the holiday weekend and to a rise in the number of Canadians entering the United States to shop.

"This is the closest the U.S. dollar has been to the Canadian dollar in a number of years," Bridge Commission General Manager Thomas E. Garlock said.

Cars entering Canada at the bridges fared much better -- there was no wait to cross into Canada at the Peace Bridge. At the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, drivers were stuck for less than 10 minutes.

Many said the delays were worse than usual.

"Usually [the traffic] is cleared up by now," said Melissa McNabb, who works in the Canadian duty-free shop.

Kevin Corsaro, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman, said officials had done everything they could to handle to crush of cars at the Peace Bridge.

"We have every available booth open," he said. "Ninety percent of the time the wait is less than 10 minutes . . . to have a significant delay is very unusual."

Jennifer and Dave Farrar of Amherst said they were surprised by the high volume of cars. They had gone to Canada for the weekend to visit friends.

Already, their wait was beginning to feel too long. They had been sitting in line for about 30 minutes, and they weren't even on the bridge.

"It's not so bad yet," Dave Farrar said. "But in a few hours . . . "

He trailed off.

His wife finished his thought.

"I'm ready to be home," she said.

e-mail: aerickson@buffnews.com

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