Three new northbound lanes will connect with Canadian project in 2016
LYNDEN – Whatcom County hosts four border crossings between the United States and Canada that handle more than $40 million in trade every day. These crossings, collectively known as the Cascade Gateway, contain the third busiest passenger vehicle crossing and fourth busiest commercial crossing between the two nations. More than 6.4 million people used the four crossings in 2012.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is planning to expand its customs facility at Aldergrove, north of Lynden, to improve commercial and passenger travel. To reduce congestion, next week the Washington State Department of Transportation will start a project to expand northbound State Route 539 near the border.
Contractor crews for WSDOT will build the new section east of the duty free shop. In place of the current one lane northbound crossing, the new section of SR 539 will have one lane for general purpose traffic, one lane for trucks and an additional lane for NEXUS frequent traveler program members. These will allow traffic to flow more smoothly into CBSA’s new facility when it opens in 2016.
The Lynden-Aldergrove border facilities handled more than 778,000 crossings in 2012, the most recent full year for which numbers are available. To reduce congestion, the crossing currently allows only a limited number of trucks, which must have a letter of authorization. When the new CBSA facility opens, those limits will be lifted.
“The added lanes on SR 539 will better serve the expanded Aldergrove facility, improving access and reducing congestion for northbound general purpose use as well as commercial vehicles,” said Project Engineer Chris Damitio.
The new lanes will be built mostly off the current highway, which runs west of the duty free shop, so construction delays should be minimal. However, drivers on SR 539 should watch for construction equipment and turning trucks. Drivers can get information about construction impacts by checking the construction update report.
The CBSA recently announced a $17.7 million contract for infrastructure improvements to the Aldergrove port of entry. Specific enhancements will include additional primary inspection lanes, including a dedicated NEXUS lane, a larger traveler processing facility and a commercial examination warehouse.
Work on the $6.9 million SR 539 project will be completed this fall. CBSA expects to complete its new customs facility in early 2016. Until the new customs facility opens, drivers will continue to use the existing SR 539.