Changes in Canada won’t catch Washington state transportation officials by surprise. As the Canada Border Services Agency makes plans to rebuild a border crossing in Aldergrove, east of Vancouver, B.C., the Washington Dept. of Transportation proves well ahead of the realignment game.
In preparation of an early 2016 rebuild finish on the Canadian side, sitting directly north of Lynden, Washington, state officials have already kicked off construction to rebuild State Route 539 and offer up a new connection to Canada for one of the four border crossings in Whatcom County, Washington.
With the four crossings known collectively known as the Cascade Gateway handling more than $40 million in trade every day, Canada will spend $17.7 million to upgrade its Aldergrove port of entry, which will include additional primary inspection lanes, a dedicated NEXUS lane and a larger traveler processing facility and commercial examination warehouse. But all the new plans was made in conjunction with Washington, which will work around a pre-existing Duty Free Americas store to add one lane approaching the border and additional lanes to the expanded state route near the crossing.
In place of the current one-lane northbound crossing, the new section of the state route will add an additional lane approaching the border and total three lanes at the border, with one for general purpose traffic one for trucks and one for NEXUS.
The state’s project engineer, Chris Damitio, says the added lanes will improve access, reduce congestion and open up access for commercial vehicles, which had been limited until now.
The new lanes will be built mostly off the current highway, wrapping to the east of the existing Duty Free shop. The $6.9 million U.S. project will finish up in fall 2014, more than a year ahead of when they’re needed to tie into Canada’s project, a welcome work of international cooperation.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.