Northbound NEXUS lanes blocked
Canada border services representative Paula Shore is reassuring that the blocking of the NEXUS lanes with concrete barricades that led to bottlenecks earlier in the week isn’t a sign of things to come as the agency replaces the aging Douglas border crossing building. “That was a glitch and those are being moved today,” she said March 23. “It’s important that lane stay open.”
Shore said the Douglas crossing was likely to be a construction zone until 2008 but that shouldn’t mean traffic jams or delays in accessing services. “We are very cognizant of the fact this is an important port for travelers and trade,” she said. “People will notice a construction site but that’s all the difference they should see.”
The first phase of the project is already underway – building a temporary facility south of the existing border crossing on what is now parkland. The temporary building, which Shore expects to be complete by this fall, will be smaller and will cut the number of traffic lanes at the port by more than half to four regular lanes and a NEXUS lane. Shore said her agency had commissioned traffic studies indicating the five lanes could handle summer traffic without leading to unusual delays. “The studies show the five lanes will be sufficient for everything but the busiest summer days,” she said. “We don’t expect there would be more delays than you would expect.”
In phase two of the project the existing Douglas crossing buildings will be torn down and the new facility will be built on the same footprint. “We’re going up,” Shore said.
Requests from the public for minimal impacts to the park and a flexible design, so the building could grow rather than needing to be replaced too soon, were important design considerations. “This is a very adaptable building, a very green building, and very compatible with its surroundings,” Shore said. The 3,090 square meter main building will have two stories and limited underground parking. At the north end of the site a 170 square meter maintenance building will also house public washrooms. When the new building is completed in 2008 the temporary facility will be removed and the park restored in those areas.