Border crossing

Old Dec 8th, 2016, 09:40 AM
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Border crossing

We are going to be in Vancouver December 21-27. We may have to go to Bellingham, Wa for the day on the 22nd. Looks like the train times won't work for us, so we will have to drive. I've never crossed the border driving. What is your educated guess for the time it will take coming and going as we will just be there for the day.

Thanks for any help.
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Old Dec 8th, 2016, 10:22 AM
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Do I understand your question correctly - that you will be driving from Vancouver early in the day and back later in the day on Thurs. Dec. 22?

In my 4x yearly border crossings I've learned that I can never predict, other than that on weekends and the day before a holiday either way can be an hour or two.

If you are going on Thu. Dec. 22 it's a weekday when there tends to be less traffic - though there may be a little early extra Christmas traffic. You could get lucky and spend 5 to 15 minutes either way, but be prepared for (and plan for) about an hour either way, possibly more.

Be aware that that on the main hwy, BC-99 & I-5, there are 2 alternative crossings: the Peace Arch crossing (the main one) and 1 mile east is the Pacific Highway crossing (also known as the truck crossing). You can use either ... there are readerboards on the highway estimating the times for each as you approach the turnoffs, so you can choose whichever at that time.

There is also a crossing to the east, at Aldergrove/Lynden on hwy BC-13 & WA 539. It is very convenient to Bellingham, but it depends where you are in the Vancouver area whether it is convenient to/from there. It often (but not always) has less wait time.

On the way to/from the borders:
Vancouver radio station AM 730 broadcasts wait times.
There are a number of websites with wait times:
Southbound one of them is: http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/ATIS/Index.htm
Northbound one of them is:http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/border/
Webcams showing lineups are at: http://www.borderlineups.com/peace-a...er-wait-times/

Be aware that any of the above sources, including readerboards, are only estimates and many times I have found the waits to be shorter/longer than shown, and the crossing showing to be faster/slower actually to be the reverse.

In addition to the wait at the border, between downtown Vancouver and the border there is a potential traffic jam on BC-99 (the main highway) at the Deas Island Tunnel. You can avoid it by taking the Alex Fraser bridge on hwy. BC-91, but from downtown Vancouver that would be out of your way.
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Old Dec 8th, 2016, 10:34 AM
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From experience (summertime) it takes longer to get into the US from Canada than it takes to get through the Canadian side.
Expect to have to open the trunk.
From the time you pass the road into the duty free shop until you get on I-5 sometimes takes 50 minutes to an hour depending on the backup of cars waiting.
I have been lucky enough to arrive at Canadian customs and only have 3 cars ahead of me.
Fill the gas tank while you are in the US.
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Old Dec 8th, 2016, 04:03 PM
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Wow, thanks for all the information. We will be leaving and returning downtown. I'll map out the suggestions to have with us. I also posted on the Washington site and their suggestions were also to drive rather than take a bus. Now, I just need to find a car to rent!

Again, thanks for the help.
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Old Dec 8th, 2016, 04:12 PM
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Although Google maps has led me astray many times, looking at it now, does it make sense to take East 1st Ave (we are leaving from Georgia St) to hwy 1 (toll road?) and hitting hwy 15 to the border crossing. I can't tell from the map the name of that crossing.

After crossing the border, we would take 543 to hwy 5. Is this right? Or does it make more sense to go through Langley?
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Old Dec 8th, 2016, 10:54 PM
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No, I wouldn't go that way. My descriptions below probably make more sense while looking at a map.

Only when travelling from West or North Vancouver or Whistler do I usually take the Trans Canada Hwy 1 to BC-13 (*NOT* BC-15) thence to the Aldergrove Crossing (known in the US as Lynden crossing, thence WA-539 to Bellingham. That way avoids the hassle of Vancouver and its traffic.

But if coming from downtown, anything you might save for border wait is going to be eaten up in the Vancouver traffic and traffic signals going through east Vancouver.

From downtown:
I'd just bite the bullet and go the main way: via either Granville or Cambie, crossing over to Oak Street somewhere around King Edward Ave. or 41st to Oak Street (the easiest 2 places to cross over between them), thence on the Oak Street Bridge to the main highway south BC-99. Just short of the border you have the choice of continuing to the main Peace Arch crossing, or taking BC-8 east about 1 mile to BC-15, thence to the Pacific Highway Crossing (the Truck Crossing). Right before the choice there's a big electronic reader board giving estimated wait times.

An alternate way to get to the same border crossings is after crossing the Oak Street Bridge take BC-91 east to the Alex Fraser Bridge, thence continue until it rejoins Hwy BC-99. This is a newer freeway, has less traffic, and avoids the Massey Tunnel bottleneck. It may save a little time, but route finding (especially at the north end of the Alex Fraser Bridge) can be a little harder but its not a bad way. It's the way I often go, but is not as obvious as just continuing straight along BC-99.

In would NOT, under most circumstances, go the way you asked about (taking 1st Ave E to the Trans Canada Hwy 1, across the Port Mann Bridge (tolled bridge) continuing to BC-15) ... that just gets you back to the main Pacific of Peace Arch Crossings in a very circuitous way through lots of traffic and signals.
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Old Dec 30th, 2016, 01:53 PM
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Just a quick follow up in case anyone is searching this topic. We were able to cross the border both ways within 10-20 minutes.

The only problem we had was on our way back to Vancouver and there was road work about 9 miles out of town that took us over an hour to get through. I'm still not sure exactly why the lanes decreased to one, but it was a mess!
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