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SR 543 Construction

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WSDOT UPDATE ON THEIR
SR 543 - I-5 to Canadian Border - Additional Lanes for Freight


Construction phase

Project location map: State Route 543, from Interstate 5 in Blaine to the International BorderView Entire Map


The lane diagram for when construction is complete. View the entire lane diagram for the wider, safer SR 543.

Project Facts

  • This project received $13.8 million in funding from the 2003 Washington state Legislature. The goal is to move freight quickly and safely to and from the border.
  • Border congestion costs trucking companies an estimated $22 million every year at Pacific Highway alone.
  • We lowered SR 543 25 feet to build a new overpass at D Street.

Project Status

January 2008

  • Construction is nearly complete at SR 543 in Blaine. All three northbound lands and both southbound lanes open. One lane northbound is dedicated for commercial trucks, one is for FAST/NEXUS users, and the other is for passenger vehicles. 
  • The D Street overpass is open, but the ramps to and from D Street remain closed. We're waiting for directional signs to arrive before we open the lanes.

Overview
We are dramatically changing and improving Pacific Highway (State Route 543) through Blaine. We are reconstructing, lowering and repaving SR 543 from Boblett Street to the U.S.-Canada border. During construction, we are building a new interchange at D Street and a designated truck lane. The new truck lane will be on the east side of the Duty Free Store to line up with the commercial inspection booths at the border. These improvements will help increase safety, improve freight movement and relieve congestion.


Why is WSDOT widening State Route 543?
The Blaine crossings between Washington and British Columbia see the third highest volume of passenger traffic and the fourth highest volume of commercial trucks along the entire U.S.-Canada border. Commercial traffic has increased 85 percent over the last 10 years. Up to 2,000 trucks use the highway each day. And everyday, trucks back up along the highway causing congestion and conflicts with local residents and drivers.


We will widen the highway and build a new overpass to relieve congestion, improve safety and facilitate truck movement across the border.


The End Result
When construction is complete, SR 543 will move trucks and cars in a faster, safer manner to and from the border. Extra lanes and a new D Street overpass will help separate cars and trucks and eliminate conflicts and congestion at intersections Local Blaine residents will be able to cross SR 543 at D Street on the new overpass with no delay or hassle.


Project Benefits
We are building a new D Street overpass to separate local traffic from highway traffic. The new overpass will increase safety and make it easier for local residents to get from one side of town to the other. Residents will pass over SR 543 on the new overpass. To build the overpass at D Street, we lowered SR 543 about 25 feet. D Street remains at its same height and location.


We widened SR 543 north of Boblett Street to provide more room for both cars and trucks. Presently, northbound trucks must use the shoulder of the highway as a waiting area. We will build and designate one new northbound lane specifically for trucks. The new lane will help prevent conflicts and congestion.


Widening northbound:

  • Widen to three lanes north of Boblett Street
  • Two general purpose lanes and one truck lane
  • The truck lane will shift to the other side of the Duty Free Store to line up with the border security booths.

Widening southbound:

  • Southbound will become two lanes
  • A right turn lane will lead to westbound H Street

We built a noise wall just north of H Street, on the west side of SR 543, to help prevent noise from affecting local residents and neighborhoods.


This project ties in with the Free and Secure Trade program (FAST). FAST allows for pre-approved trucks to quickly cross the border, much like Nexus, used by passenger vehicles. Currently, northbound trucks signed up for the program see little benefit because there is only one truck lane leading to the border station on SR 543. Once construction is complete, trucks using FAST will have their own lane, increasing their crossing speed substantially while relieving congestion.