GSA to begin traffic detours Tuesday
By Tara Nelson
Motorists traveling southbound from Canada can anticipate a new detour at the Peace Arch border crossing beginning August 5.
Bill Lesh, spokesperson for the U.S. General Services Administration, said beginning Tuesday, southbound traffic leaving the port of entry will also be detoured onto D Street as it turns into Peace Portal Drive. From there, travelers can cross D Street and return to the freeway or proceed south on Peace Portal Drive and reenter the freeway at onramp 274.
The detour will allow the construction of a new northbound bridge off I-5. 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.
Also beginning Monday, August 18, work crews will begin the construction of a northbound detour that will shift northbound traffic onto southbound lanes at the D Street interchange up the east side of the existing Peace Arch border facility.
The detour will end just north of the existing port building where it will rejoin I-5 and widen to three lanes.
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. Also, one southbound lane of I-5 will be open on weekends. The lane will be available between noon Friday, August 8 and 6 a.m. Monday August 11 as well as Friday, August 15 to Monday morning August 18.
The D Street exit will remain open, but vehicles will have no northbound access to I-5, he said. “Instead, northbound motorists will be detoured east on D Street to the truck route and then north to the Pacific Highway border crossing to Canada.”
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, 2007.
Drivers can also check border cameras and wait times before traveling, which are available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/border.