As soon as the weather allows, the Washington State Department of Transportation will convert rarely used street parking into additional lanes for traffic between Garfield and Harrison streets.
The changes in Sumas reflect the state and national goal of reducing border wait times and creating jobs between the U.S. and Canada, according to Todd Carlson, WSDOT planning and engineering services manager.
“These are fairly simple changes we can make on the ground that should net big benefits for travelers and both economies,” Carlson said in an April 26 press release. “Increased traffic flow across the border can mean increased business for Sumas and beyond.”
Only one lane currently exists in each direction with parking on both sides of Cherry Street. After the restriping, there will be one lane southbound and three lanes northbound between Garfield Street and Harrison Street.
Transportation officials say the expansion will help cut down on long lines and waits for travelers crossing into British Columbia.
Striping crews will close lanes periodically during a two or three-day period to grind and replace the old lane markings, stripe the new lanes and add new signs.
Dry and reasonably warm conditions are necessary, so crews will wait for a dry spell and do the work during the day.
The border crossing will remain open while crews work, but drivers should anticipate some added delay, according to WSDOT.
Last fall, the number of vehicles passing through the four Whatcom County border crossings was the highest seen since 2001.
According to the Whatcom Council of Governments, more than 1 million vehicles crossed the border in Sumas in 2011, up more than 200,000 from 2010.
More than $40 million in trade is shipped daily across the border.