Border reconstruction project gets $30 million boost

Published on Thu, Apr 9, 2009 by Jack Kintner

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Renovations at the Peace Arch border crossing have received a $30 million push in federal economic recovery funds that will hopefully prevent further delays in finishing the project.

“We discovered that the slope where we’ve excavated for the northbound I-5 roadbed was less stable than anticipated, which required that we re-do design work,” said Ross Buffington of the General Services Administration office in Auburn. “The extra money won’t accelerate the project. We still expect to finish in November of 2010.”

A smoothly operating and efficient crossing is vital not only to Blaine businesses but to the entire state. Each year 1.7 million people and almost $600 billion in goods cross the northern border into the U.S. A third of the jobs in Washington state depend on such trade.

Buffington repeated assurances that even though the project is a year behind schedule, ten inspection lanes will be available for southbound traffic by the time of the Winter Olympics next February.

“What will take the extra time is completion of the administration building,” Buffington said. “The current building will remain until after the new one is completed and will then be demolished. What we’re working on right now is the northbound roadway.”

Congressman Rick Larsen co-chairs the governor’s 2010 Olympics Task Force that’s coordinating preparations for the Olympic Games as well as for this year’s international Police and Fire Games. The extra money will help guarantee that 10 lanes will be open for the extra cross-border traffic anticipated, he said.