Hearingon border building set

Published on Thu, Dec 8, 2005 by ara Nelson

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Hearing on border building set

By Tara Nelson

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency that operates the Peace Arch port of entry in Blaine, will hold a series of meetings beginning this week explaining details of the draft environmental impact study (EIS) released last week to give Blaine residents a chance to comment about plans for a new facility at the Peace Arch border crossing.

The first of two meetings is scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, December 8 at the Blaine Senior Center and will feature an overview of the draft by project manager Mark Howard of the GSA’s Northwest regional office.

The second meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., December 13 at the same location. A court reporter will be present and residents can ask questions that will be answered in the final EIS, said Michael Levine, a GSA regional program analyst.

The project calls for decommissioning, demolishing and replacing the existing building with a new structure and will displace a number of residents in the nearby neighborhoods west of 2nd Street, south of Peace Arch State Park, and north of C Street; demolish the Peace Arch State Park ranger’s office and residence and the park’s kitchen building; and extend the new facility into a piece of land bordering the park, according to the EIS.

The EIS lists three possible alternatives for reconstruction. Under alternative 1, the main building would be moved below a proposed new northbound freeway lane; the secondary inspection building would be located south of the main building; and the staff and visitor parking area would be located on the east side of the site near Second Street and connected to the main building by a walkway.

Under alternative 2, the main building could be one or two stories high and would be located below the new northbound lane; the secondary inspection area would be located south of the main building; and the staff and visitor parking area would be located northeast of the main building, next to Second Street and the parking lot for Peace Arch State Park.

Under alternative 3, the main building would be two stories high and located east of the new northbound roadway; the secondary inspection building would be located on the north side of the main building; and the staff and visitor parking area would be located along the east side of the main building.

All of the alternatives would expand the main port of entry building to 30,000 square feet of floor area; increase the number of southbound inspection booths; install a covered secondary inspection area; replace outdated electrical and telecommunications systems; add a 150-vehicle capacity parking lot for staff and visitors; and lengthen the northbound lanes by 350 feet, according to the EIS.

Levine said he expects the final EIS to be issued in late February and construction to begin as early as March 2007.