The International Mobility and Trade Corridor Program

Dynamic Border Management

Status: Underway


This project consists of three initiatives that reflect current IMTC priorities and will offer lasting benefits to the Cascade Gateway.

  1. Border facility simulation modeling – Simulation modeling will enable detailed comparisons of investment alternatives and other operations and policy changes to border transportation and inspection systems.
  2.  Cascade Gateway RFID pilot – This task will complete data collection, modeling, and a business case for a proposed pilot project that could be lead by federal inspection agencies and ID-issuing agencies to proactively distribute vicinity readable RFID border crossing documents to frequent crossers already in possession of valid passports.
  3. Integrated border wait time validation and calibration methodology – This task will develop, implement, and document a standardized method of validating regional border wait time systems.


This project covers all ports-of-entry in the Cascade Gateway.

Why this project was needed

Border area simulation modeling

To serve growing demand with limited resources, proposed operational changes at land border ports-of-entry require evaluation by more than one agency to select options, present findings to headquarters, and prepare business cases. The benefits of using a general purpose micro-simulation model were clearly illustrated when one was used to test alternatives and develop a business case for the 2011/2012 rerouting and booth reallocation at the southbound Pacific Highway truck crossing. Statistically robust analysis based on data collected and validated by partnering agencies is an effective strategy for improving regional system operations with multiple partners.

Cascade Gateway RFID pilot

The 2012 U.S. Canada Beyond the Border Action Plan includes a section titled, “Invest in Improved Border Infrastructure and Technology.” An initiative under this section is “Facilitate secure passage and expedite processing through implementing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology at appropriate crossings.”

At border stations equipped with vicinity RFID readers, an RFID-carrying individual’s information can be queried when the traveler is next in line—before arrival at the booth. This is determined to save over 20 seconds per vehicle at the primary inspection booth because required queries can be completed before the driver pulls up to the inspection officer. U.S. and Canadian passport books, which most non-NEXUS travelers currently use, are equipped with proximity RFID so, while they are compliant with international passport standards and U.S. law, they must be handed to the inspection officer to be read.

The province of British Columbia and state of Washington have both offered RFID enhanced drivers’ licenses (EDLs) since 2009. Development of EDLs was motivated by U.S. passage of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

The NEXUS program uses vicinity RFID technology in its cards. But for the 65 percent or so of Cascade Gateway cross-border trips not being made through NEXUS booths, wider adoption of this time-saving RFID technology offers huge improvements in border efficiency, congestion relief, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from idling vehicles.

While U.S. CBP has developed the Ready Lane program to offer some travel time reduction incentive to RFID users, the dedicated Ready Lane inspection booth is at the end of the standard traffic queue like all the other non-NEXUS booths. Unlike NEXUS membership, non-NEXUS RFIDs do not offer an immediate benefit to individuals. The benefit of increasing RFID use is a system benefit that will be realized by all users and system operators. This key difference makes it difficult to rely on travelers to voluntarily pay the approximately $20 premium for an EDL over a standard driver’s license.

While EDLs have been acquired by WA residents in substantial numbers, uptake in BC has been less. EDLs are used infrequently as border crossing ID. If non-NEXUS vicinity RFID is going to provide a system benefit through increased overall efficiency, it will likely require a degree of public investment.

RFID Business Case (pdf)

Integrated border wait time validation and calibration methodology

Since B.C. Ministry of Transportation and WA State Department of Transportation installed border wait time measurement systems, typical incremental changes to facilities (roadway and inspection) have resulted in often unexpected impacts to border wait time system accuracy. Other sources of periodic error have included failed hardware (loops, controllers, etc.) or operational changes (changed location of dedicated commuter lanes, etc.).

Border wait time measurement systems are a relatively new and geographically limited feature of the transportation network. They were installed without a program of periodic validation and, if needed, calibration (refinement of the estimation algorithm or other software or hardware fixes). Over the years, it has become clear that the regional border wait time measurement systems should be validated on a scheduled basis and supported by sufficient resources for ongoing adjustments and maintenance.

Backgrounder (pdf)


This project will result in the following products:


$187, 500 (est.)

Funding & Partnerships

This project was funded by: