By Oliver Lazenby
A variety of agencies on both sides of the border met in late December to discuss making the Peace Arch border crossing easier for walkers and bicyclists. They’re picking up the pieces of a plan that stalled a few years ago, after BC Parks built a sidewalk from Canada Border Services Agency offices to the border monument in 2011.
That sidewalk ends at a patch of grass, and for pedestrians, it’s not clear how to continue through the park, said Jason Snow, Peace Arch State Park manager. Snow attended the December 20 meeting, along with representatives from US and Canadian border agencies, Washington State Department of Transportation, US General Services Administration and other agencies.
The sidewalk situation is not just confusing but can also be dangerous, Snow said. He’s seen pedestrians with strollers arrive at the end of the sidewalk and enter the road, rather than continuing through the grass.
“It’s really just a waypoint that’s missing and it’s a safety concern because they just don’t know where to go,” he said.
Developing a pedestrian plan for the park has been a priority of the Whatcom Council of Governments for several years. In addition to a sidewalk, the council and other organizations want clear signs directing bicyclists and pedestrians from one end of the park to the other.
A 2013 report estimated that the project would cost $79,000. The council of governments and Washington State Parks are working on getting an updated cost estimate, said Melissa Fanucci, principal planner with WCOG.
Fanucci stressed that the plan is in its beginning stages and WCOG doesn’t yet have a timeline or funding.
“We’re making suggestions for improvements, but there’s no confirmation, no schedule, and no funds for the work,” she said.
Whatcom Council of Governments is also the lead agency on a pedestrian plan for the Pacific Highway crossing. That crossing also needs signage and sidewalks, Fanucci said, but should be less costly to update than Peace Arch, according to a draft pedestrian plan.
Note from the editor: An early version of this story incorrectly identified the Peace Arch State Park manager. His name is Jason Snow, not James Snow. We regret the error.