It’s been more than a year since construction started on an expansion at the North Portal border crossing, and while a lot of progress has been made, there is still a lot of work remaining.
Luke Reimer, a communications officer with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), said the project started with temporary primary inspection line (PIL) booths for both travellers and commercial traffic a year ago.
“This was necessary as part of phasing to allow for roadwork and building construction. Permanent new PIL booths are expected to be installed by the end of fall 2019,” Reimer told the Mercury in an email.
The old canopy for the main CBSA office has been removed, and beams and framing for the new canopy have been erected.
The expanded commercial warehouse and new drive-through examination bay are almost completely enclosed, with glass installed and mechanical/electrical, insulation, and roofing work now underway.
“Travellers will notice the aluminum framework for the solar panel wall on the southwest wall of the commercial warehouse,” said Reimer.
Once completed, the panels are expected to generate 37 kilowatts at peak output, powering approximately 10 to 15 per cent of the commercial building load.
Part of the upcoming work includes replacing sidewalks and the parking pavement area adjacent to the main CBSA office. Therefore, temporary parking will be put in place further from the building.
Additionally, the front entrance on the north side of the main CBSA office will be inaccessible due to concrete work. Instead, there will be a temporary walkway with signage directing travellers to an entrance on the south side of the building.
“Travellers have been very co-operative while construction is ongoing,” said Reimer. “Border wait times for travellers have been minimal and within service standards. Border wait times for commercial traffic are consistent with those occurring previously and fluctuate depending on daily volumes.
From April 1 to Sept. 30, dimensional restrictions of six metres in width and 50 metres in length are in effect for oversized loads entering/leaving Canada at North Portal. Operators of larger loads have been encouraged to use other crossings, with the nearest being Regway in south-central Saskatchewan.
Once the project is complete, it will increase the capacity of the port of entry by adding a third processing lane. A new and taller canopy will be constructed and three bi-level primary inspection line booths will be added to streamline traffic flow.
The commercial warehouse, where semi-trucks and commercial vehicles come through, will be renovated for more efficient processing.
There will also be a drive-thru into unloading bays, and an increase in the parking area to accommodate 12 semi-trucks at one time.
This is expected to be an 18-30-month project.