Construction continues to forge ahead on the expansion at the North Portal border crossing – the busiest port of entry from the U.S. into Canada.
The project will include new primary inspection lines, a third processing lane, a commercial warehouse expansion and a new drive-thru examination bay.
The permanent, new booths and building canopy are expected to be fully installed and in use by the end of 2020. Work on a third processing lane that is being added will continue into 2021. Three new primary inspection line (PIL) booth structures are on-site and in place, and are awaiting hook-up, said Luke Reimer, a communications advisor for Western Canada with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
Officers at the North Portal border crossing continue to process traffic from temporary primary inspection line (PIL) booths at this time, he said.
The commercial warehouse expansion and new drive-through examination bay are approximately 75 per cent complete, and are expected to be in use by the end of 2020.
“At this point, the outstanding work consists mainly of electrical work and systems installation,” Reimer said.
Throughout the summer, crews will be working to install concrete and pavement underneath the main building canopy and in the expanded parking area designated for commercial traffic.
There is still also significant civil work required, which includes land drainage systems and roadwork to connect the highway system to the CBSA plaza underneath the main building canopy.
Reimer noted that construction started in May 2018 and was initially estimated to take 18-30 months. However, this timeline has been extended due to the discovery of undocumented, buried structures, such as old foundations, concrete, halocarbon tanks and paved roadways during the excavation process, which required additional work.
While the CBSA still expects major project components to be completed later this year, work will continue into the next construction season. A phased approach to construction remains necessary to maintain the flow of non-discretionary travel, such as commercial shipments, into Canada at North Portal.
The CBSA at North Portal has remained operational throughout the construction, and there are no expected closures. From time to time there have been moderate delays in traveller processing as equipment moves or work is required in a specific area. However, this is being monitored and kept to a minimum.
“The vast majority of comments from travellers have been positive, with people expressing their anticipation to see the end result at project completion,” said Reimer. “We are grateful to the Village of North Portal and surrounding community for their continued support and understanding.”
COVID-19 has not affected the project to a large degree. Contractors have been responsible for ensuring their employees follow public health advice and adhere to physical distancing requirements.
Traffic volumes remain low due to COVID-19 restrictions on discretionary travel at the Canada-U.S. border.