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New equipment will improve USA-Canada border crossings

Drivers who plan to travel from the USA to Canada via Lynden and Sumas have a new source of information to use when choosing a border crossing. A contractor for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has installed 14 new cameras along State Routes 9 and 539 that now are available on the internet. The cameras, which automatically update every two minutes, show traffic conditions in northern Whatcom County, approaching the Lynden and Sumas border crossings. The US$2.8m project includes a new electronic variable message sign (VMS) on SR 539 between Smith Road and Axton Road north of Bellingham. When the sign becomes operational, it will provide information that allows drivers to make the most efficient crossing choices. The activation date has yet to be determined. Project work included a weather station to help WSDOT monitor air and roadway surface temperatures and make decisions about road maintenance, such as when to apply deicer or if plowing is necessary. The information will be available to emergency responders, the media and the public.

The work was carried out by Valley Electric Co of Mount Vernon. In addition to the cameras, message board and weather station, the contractor crews installed 9.6km (6 miles) of fiber optic cable to connect the entire ITS system. The new scheme complements another project that was completed in 2012, when WSDOT installed 24km (15 miles) of fiber optic line and 21 cameras along Interstate 5 between Samish Way in Bellingham and the Birch Bay-Lynden Road near Blaine. The majority of the cost for both projects was paid from federal border infrastructure funding, which is dedicated to improving the safe movement of people and goods across USA borders to Canada and Mexico. “The cameras will provide up-to-the-minute information about traffic conditions and collisions, which will help people decide the best route,” explained WSDOT project engineer, Chris Damitio. “The weather station is valuable because conditions can change quickly, particularly during the winter.”

August 28, 2014

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