GSA to Revamp Two Land Crossings From Washington to Canada

Renovations and Expansions Planned for Ports of Entry in Sumas and Lynden in Washington
Kenneth G. Ward port of entry
The Kenneth G. Ward port of entry in Lynden, Wash. Space limitations at the port “cause frequent congestion in the commercial vehicle lane" GSA said. (U.S. General Services Administration)

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The U.S. General Services Administration has awarded a $1.35 million contract for a pre-design project study to modernize two land ports of entry from Washington state to Canada to alleviate congestion involving commercial vehicles.

Plans are underway to modernize and expand the land ports of entry with British Columbia in Washington at the port in Sumas, which operates 24 hours daily at the north end of State Route 9, and in Lynden at the Kenneth G. Ward border crossing, open 16 hours per day along State Route 539.

GSA awarded the contract for a pre-design project development study on both land ports, located 10 miles from each other, to Jacobs Solutions, which will work with the federal agency to create a modernization project schedule and plan.

In announcing the award to Jacobs on Nov. 2, GSA noted that both land ports require revamping to meet the needs of the federal government and traveling public.

Space limitations at the Kenneth G. Ward port “cause frequent congestion in the commercial vehicle lane, and commercial vehicles often travel farther distances to other ports that offer more efficient processing,” GSA noted. “The port’s limited commercial capability results in unbalanced demand and escalating wait times at other commercial ports throughout western Washington.”

A Google Maps view of Lynden and Sumas in Washington and the surrounding area. (Google Maps)

It can no longer handle the operational needs of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, resulting in what GSA characterized as having “an acute impact on international commerce.”

GSA intends to expand the 37-year-old Kenneth G. Ward port into a 24-hour, full-service port with separate and relocated commercial screening operations. It would have five lanes only for privately owned vehicles, four dedicated commercial lanes and new outbound inspection processing into Canada.

The timeline for both port projects lists the development study to be completed no later than December 2024, with design-build awards granted in November 2025. Construction would start in September 2026, with substantial completion done by November 2028.

Sumas port of entry

The Sumas port of entry will add two commercial inspection lanes to the two it already has. (U.S. General Services Administration)

The Sumas land port of entry, built in 1988, will cost more — from $135 million to $155 million — than the Kenneth G. Ward port’s estimated price tag of $90 million to $100 million.

When completed, the Sumas port will gain two commercial inspection lanes to total four and add a sixth inspection lane for privately owned vehicles. It will also have a new dedicated pedestrian corridor and inspection processing area for commercial vehicles entering Canada.

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GSA will pay for the port projects with funds from $3.4 billion it was allocated through the bipartisan infrastructure law to build and modernize land ports of entry along the nation’s northern and southern borders. Upgraded border crossings will also enable CBP to more effectively deploy advanced technology to identify high-risk activity and shipments, combat drug trafficking and increase operational security.

Both crossings are among 13 land ports of entry between Washington and Canada. Shippers along the West Coast transport goods through Washington into Canada.

Washington’s land ports of entry with the highest truck traffic this year are Blaine (29,870 crossings), Sumas (11,907), Kenneth G. Ward (4,059) and Frontier (1,846), according to the latest Bureau of Transportation data from Jan. 1 to Sept. 2.