Students research cross-border freight traffic
Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute is currently involved in a two-year research project examining the movement of freight across the Canadian-U.S. border at three crossings that serve the northern end of the I-5 corridor, including Pacific Highway, Lynden and Sumas.
The research project, which is a collaboration between Western and the Whatcom Council of Governments, involves Western students documenting the number and types of freight vehicles crossing the border, and then analyzing the compiled data.
“There’s not another place on the Canadian border where students do this kind of thing,” said David Davidson, interim director of the BPRI. “It’s very rare that a student group is allowed to do this.”
The data being gathered will be put into simulations that will assist planning at the border crossing; the information also will help to determine system improvements to expedite freight traffic across the border.
The two students who are gathering data this summer were hired by the BPRI and had to go through a vetting process with both U. S. and Canadian officials in order to be allowed to gather data at the border crossings. The second part of the study, which will take place next summer, will involve about eight Western students who will be stationed inside the inspection booths next to U.S. and Canadian customs agents.
The Whatcom Council of Governments assembled several funding partners to support this project, including the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Transport Canada. Both the BPRI and the Whatcom Council of Governments also are contributing funds.
Housed at Western Washington University, the Border Policy Research Institute is a multi-disciplinary institute that undertakes research that informs policy-makers on matters related to the Canada - U.S. border. Priority focus areas are trade and transportation, economics, environment, immigration, and border security. The University established the BPRI to further a mission of promoting research, academic programs, and public programming on critical policy issues affecting the Pacific Northwest. The BPRI works closely with academic programs at the University and collaborates with many public and private entities within the Pacific Northwest.
Members of the BPRI survey crew interview cross-border travelers bound for B.C. at the Lynden-Aldergrove port of entry. File photo courtesy of Whatcom Council of Governments