The International Mobility and Trade Corridor Program

Commercial Vehicle Operations Border Evaluation Studies


IMTC participants have identified the need to periodically evaluate commercial vehicle operations (CVO) at the Cascade Gateway’s three ports-of-entry as a priority for informing regional investment strategies, and to analyze the impacts of changes to road and inspection systems.

2015-2016 Border Freight Operations Study

Status: Database and reports completed

This effort was identified by IMTC participants as a priority project.  It is being performed jointly by The Whatcom Council of Governments (WCOG) partnered with the Border Policy Research Institute (BPRI) at Western Washington University, and conducted with coordination and support from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canada Border Services Agency, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation, and the WA State Department of Transportation.

An integrated data collection and synthesis effort focused on weekday vehicle observations and driver interviews at each of the regional commercial crossings. Field data was complemented with other sources including vehicle detectors, inspection agency system time stamps, carrier company interviews, and U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics Transborder Database.

Field data was collected the summer of 2015 and  2016 to allow before-and-after comparisons of newly opened commercial facilities at Aldergrove (northbound), anticipated installation of a metered arrival system for northbound trucks at Pacific Highway, and the degree of route shifting at all three commercial ports subsequent to these changes to the regional cross-border transportation system.

Data from both field efforts are now available. The final compilation of study products is here.

This project was funded by:


2009 Evaluation

Status: Completed in 2009

The Whatcom Council of Governments partnered with the Border Policy Research Institute (BPRI) at Western Washington University, and the University of Washington to conduct a 2009 evaluation of commercial vehicle movement through the Pacific Highway, Lynden/Aldergrove, and Sumas/Huntingdon ports-of-entry. The analysis included measurement of border processing rates, northbound and southbound at all three crossings, as well as the collection of origin-destination and commodity data. Data were collected July, 2009 by a team of Western Washington University students. The final report is available here.

The project also included an internet survey sent to dispatchers of carrier companies operating at the Pacific Highway port-of-entry. The results from this analysis were compiled by the University of Washington and are available in their final report.

A BPRI Border Policy Brief reviewed data gathered during this survey effort as part of its analysis, “Issues of Efficacy of FAST at the Cascade Gateway.”

As part of the project, surveyors also collected information about bus arrivals and bus/charter passengers crossing at the Pacific Highway port-of-entry. This database is also available upon request.

Surveyors also completed a border signage inventory, which catalogued all border-related signage on the routes approaching and at the four Cascade Gateway ports-of-entry. To view the signage inventory online, click here.

2006 Evaluation

Status: Completed in 2006

Given the changes at Pacific Highway since 2002, IMTC participants were interested in seeing if the border wait times have improved five years after the original study and after substantial investments in infrastructure improvements. The study examined changes in queuing patterns, travel delay, and processing times at the border, and also attempted to attribute any improvements to discreet projects or initiatives at the border. The study also collected data to be used for ongoing modeling efforts and to develop a baseline for future project monitoring.

Initial results showed that the new alignment of southbound B.C. Highway 15 has improved overall travel time for FAST-approved trucks using the ITS lane. For other trucks, however, through-border travel time decreased from 2002, despite roadway improvements.

Despite the fact that the number of commercial vehicles crossing the border are down 13 percent since 2002, border crossings took more time. This is predominantly due to longer primary booth processing times, which have increased by 110 percent since 2002.

A full analysis of results is available in the final report.

2002 Pacific Highway ITS Deployment Evaluation Study

Status: Completed in 2003

This original study was sponsored by U.S. Federal Highway Administration and completed by SAIC and TSi Consultants to evaluate the potential benefits of ITS deployment at the Pacific Highway port-of-entry. The study specifically looked at current delay and estimated future delay with and without the addition of an electronic commercial vehicle processing lane such as a FAST (Free and Secure Trade) Program lane. The study concluded that substantial benefits could be achieved if even 15 percent of commercial vehicles crossing at Pacific Highway were to use a specialized ITS lane.

2000 Trade and Travel Study

The IMTC Cross-Border Trade and Travel Study was completed in 2001 as a response to the need identified by IMTC participants for better data regarding the four ports-of-entry which make up the Cascade Gateway between Whatcom County, Washington and British Columbia.

Surveys were conducted at all four Cascade Gateway ports-of-entry including Peace Arch/Douglas, Pacific Highway, Lynden/Aldergrove, and Sumas/Abbotsford-Huntingdon.

Previous data collected on the Cascade Gateway revealed little about commodity flow, intermodal opportunities, or the potential sustainability of new transportation options. To close these gaps, updated and detailed information was collected in the summer and fall of 2000 to analyze cross-border traffic volumes, origin and destination of trips, commercial commodity flow, and passenger trip purpose.

The final report analyzes who crosses the border and what drives demand; time of day characteristics of cross-border travel; the potential for diverting traffic to alternative modes of travel as well as to other crossings; and the markets for pre-approved travel programs to improve cross-border security and mobility.

This project was funded by:

For More Information

Contact Hugh Conroy, Director of Planning, at (360) 685-8384.