Policy & Positions Manual
Provincial Issues - Transportation and Infrastructure
Commercial Designation of Aldergrove Port of Entry Essential for Future Cross-border Transportation Needs (2011)
Based on 2008 northbound truck volumes, the Aldergove-Lynden crossing is the second busiest U.S.-Canada commercial crossing in BC (after Pacific Highway)(1). The importance of this crossing will only increase in light of anticipated volume increases due to population growth, escalating economic activity into the eastern environs of the Fraser Valley and projected expansion of Asia-Pacific trade through the Port of Vancouver.
Existing and projected growth rates indicate that by 2030 the population in Metro Vancouver will reach 3 million, with similar growth in neighbouring Fraser Valley communities. The Port of Vancouver is expanding with container volumes anticipated to double within the next 10 to 15 years. While 70% of containers are transported by rail, doubling of containers to be transported by truck is still significant.
During 2008, the Aldergrove-Lynden port saw $496 million USD of goods exported from Washington and $38 million USD of goods exported from BC. In 2008, this border crossing saw 74,040 commercial vehicle trips northbound and 57,155 truck trips southbound.(2) Based on 2008 GDP statistics, 21% of BC’s annual economic output ($32 billion CAD) and 15% of Washington’s annual economic output ($49 billion USD) is generated by industries that produce exportable goods. These sectors individually, and the export sector collectively, depends on effective international connections, including access to land border ports of entry like Aldergrove-Lynden.
To illustrate the interdependence of the regional economies on both sides of the border, the wood, metal, and mineral goods that enter BC at Aldergove-Lynden represents sectors (manufacturing and forestry) that comprise 12% of Washington’s economic output and are inputs into sectors (construction and retail) that make up over 12% of BC’s economic output.
Recent comparisons of observed crossing choices and shortest-path traffic-model assignments, show that Aldergrove-Lynden is not an “overflow route” for higher-volume crossings in the area. Rather, Aldergrove-Lynden serves a distinct population of carriers and shippers for whom the crossing is the most efficient route.
Analysis of an Aldergrove-Lynden closure to trucks estimates that the current population of users would need to drive an additional 198,433 km per month. In addition to fuel and time costs, this has implications for increasing greenhouse gas emissions both as a function of increased drive distances and more frequent idling at other, now more congested, crossings.
Cumulative truck travel added by loss of the Aldergove-Lynden route (in both directions) would generate an estimated 3.85 kilo tonnes of GHG emissions per year. In terms of BC’s Climate Action Plan goals, this hypothetical route closure would cancel out 0.51 percent of the annual GHG reduction that the freight road transportation sub-sector is expected to attain by 2015 (761 kt). Moreover, prolonged trips have negative safety benefits by increasing the exposure risk of crashes and contribute to unnecessary congestion and noise, both of which can be disruptive to local communities and businesses.
The Aldergrove-Lynden Port of Entry is one of three cross-border truck routes between the Lower Mainland in BC and Western Washington State. In addition, the Peace Arch crossing is available to passenger traffic only. Because of land constraints at the Pacific Highway and Sumas / Huntingdon border crossings, the only viable option for adding infrastructure and processing capacity for commercial vehicles is through Aldergrove. Increased congestion on the part of commercial traffic at these land border crossings would also frustrate the ability of passenger traffic to access these border crossings and add to wait times and congestion. Even the passenger car-only crossing of Peace Arch could be negatively affected if passenger car drivers choose to avoid crossings that have become congested due to increased commercial traffic volumes and divert to Peace Arch.
THE CHAMBER RECOMMENDS
That the Federal Government:
in conjunction with impending border infrastructure replacement review the current designation of the Aldergrove Port of Entry to remove any limitations to its ability to serve as a full commercial traffic Port of Entry;
fund, design, and build the necessary infrastructure to support full commercial operations at the Aldergrove Port of Entry; and
establish service levels that would denote when additional resources, including hours of operation, should be increased.
(1) The statistics and analysis contained in this briefing note are based on the June 2010 Technical Assessment of the Aldergrove-Lynden Port of Entry prepared by the Whatcom Council of Governments for the International Mobility and Trade Corridor Project.