GSA to begin border traffic detours

Published on Thu, Jul 17, 2008 by ara Nelson

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GSA to begin border traffic detours

By Tara Nelson

Travelers who plan on crossing the U.S./Canadian border at the Peace Arch port of entry can expect detours and delays from now until construction of a new facility at the Peace Arch port of entry is completed.

Bill Lesh, a spokesperson for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) said Monday the agency began rerouting southbound traffic to three lanes on the west side of the facility’s primary inspection building and will likely continue well into the fall of 2010.

Within the next several weeks, Lesh said southbound traffic leaving the port of entry will also be detoured onto D Street as it turns to Peace Portal Drive and then onto the next freeway off-ramp to allow construction crews to build a new bridge.

The new bridge will connect the northbound I-5 to the Peace Arch customs facility and is part of a larger plan to expand the current facility to improve traffic flow and inspections.

Lesh said although that detour is several weeks away, the GSA will provide notice of at least two to three weeks.

During that time, three general-purpose primary inspection booths and one NEXUS booth will remain open – the same number of booths normally staffed at Peace Arch during non-peak travel times.

The detour plans were first scheduled to begin in November of 2007, but Lesh said a combination of adverse soil conditions, difficulty in obtaining permits and scheduling changes by subcontractors pushed back their original starting date.

“It’s a major construction project and in almost every major construction project, there are delays – especially in the beginning,” he said. “However, we’re now up to full speed on this and we hope this is the last of the delays.”

Lesh did not say whether the detour would create longer wait times for drivers, but other federal officials say they are concerned the detours could mark the beginning of up to two years of a strangled border.

“It’s going to be painful for everybody,” James Rector, assistant port director for the Blaine area, told The Northern Light in September of 2007.

Drivers can also check border cameras and wait times before traveling, which are available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/border.