- We are in the process of designing this project to improve SR 539 near the border crossing.
- Canada is also designing changes to their facility for northbound travelers.
- Construction is expected in 2014 on SR 539.
This project widens and dramatically improves a narrow, outdated section of State Route 539 in Whatcom County leading to an outdated Canadian border crossing.
Specifically, we will widen northbound State Route 539 between H Street and the Lynden-Aldergrove border crossing by adding two additional lanes, bringing the total to three lanes: a General Purpose, NEXUS and truck lane (the truck lane splits into two lanes just before reaching the border). We will also widen the shoulder.
The entire northbound roadway will be shifted east around the Duty Free store to accommodate the new CBSA facility.
Why is WSDOT
widening SR 539 near the border?
The Lynden-Aldergrove border crossing is a bottleneck that creates long traffic backups in an area with growing freight and traveler needs. Canadian customs has secured funding to rebuild its 40-year-old, obsolete building and enlarge the size of its inspection facilities. The improved port of entry cannot operate effectively without corresponding improvements to our state highway.
Improvements to SR 539 are needed to reduce the bottle neck that will occur once additional booths are added at the Canadian facility. Without these improvements, traffic will still back up waiting to cross the border. Once we add the second lane, a NEXUS lane will then be available at this border crossing, helping to dramatically reduce wait times for drivers with a NEXUS card.
In 2009, this vital port processed $377 million in Washington exports and $40 million in British Columbia exports. Although restrictions for northbound trucks have been in place since 2010, demand for freight access remains high.
The Lynden-Aldergrove crossing is one of four border crossings that are known collectively as the Cascade Gateway (five-minute YouTube video about Cascade Gateway). These crossings connect major metropolitan areas on both sides of the border. The Cascade Gateway contains the third busiest passenger-vehicle crossing on the U.S.-Canada border, the fourth busiest commercial crossing, and carries more than $40 million (USD) every day in trade. Each of the four Washington-British Columbia crossings plays a vital role in supporting international trade with Canada, and are important for creating U.S. jobs.
The End Result
Once completed, the combined WSDOT and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) projects will remove a key bottleneck by separating trucks, passenger cars and trusted travelers into separate lanes, reducing border wait times, and increasing throughput of both passenger and freight traffic. These improvements will facilitate international trade, including U.S. exports and Canadian retail activity in Washington state.
- Border mobility: The project will improve northbound SR 539 to accommodate CBSA’s new inspection facilities, help reduce border wait times and facilitate international trade.
- Safety: The project will transform this section of highway from a narrow roadway to a wider, safer three-lane highway with wider shoulders.
- Environmental: Adds stormwater detention ponds and water treatment systems to improve water quality. Improves air quality by reducing idling at the border crossing, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
What is the project timeline?
- 2012-2013: Design project
- May 15, 2012: Hosted a community at Lynden City Hall Annex, 205 Fourth Street.
- Early 2014: Advertise project
- 2014: Build project
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Project signage will reflect the cost of construction engineering, project bid award and sales tax.
How can I get more information?
Project Engineer, Chris Damitio
460 Stuart Road
Bellingham, WA 98226
Communications, Dave Chesson
1043 Goldenrod Road, Suite 101
Burlington, WA 98233
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