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Driving from Seattle to Whistler

Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 01:44 PM
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Driving from Seattle to Whistler

We go to Whistler a couple times a year and always go through the Truck Crossing, then up Hwy 15 to Hwy 1. Straightforward and easy though lines at the truck crossing can be bad. We have tried going through downtown Vancouver and over Lion's Gate bridge when we wanted to stop and eat in Vancouver, but I know that's a terrible way to go if speed is a concern--that's painfully slow.

But now I see that google is calling the following route the fastest: I-5 to 99 to 91A to Marine Drive to Boundary Drive to Hwy 1. This route is west of the way we usually go, so it seems like it would go through a busier part of the metro area, but I want to know if anyone takes this regularly and if it is indeed, as google says, faster than the truck crossing/hwy 15. It would be nice to be able to look at border wait times on my phone, then choose which crossing to take. Thanks.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 03:19 PM
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While I can certainly see viewing the various border crossing times POSTED on electronic signs approaching Bellingham and then again when approaching the border, and opting for any that is significantly less-delayed... I think that your route as mentioned is fine as is.

The differences might be tiny, although when you chance the big 99 freeway you are opening yourself to major delays depending on random traffic.

(IF only the Port Mann bridge weren't a factor, I'd never opt for any other path than the one you always take)
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Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 06:17 PM
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Yes, watch the signs. When, driving in Canada it seems the choice is usually between slow and slower.

When we drove to Whistler a few months ago, I thought we would never get from the from the border to Horseshoe Bay.

Fortunately, the scenic drive from Horseshoe Bay north on the Sea to Sky Highway makes up for the ordeal.

HTTY
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Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 06:26 PM
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christy1---I believe they have that route you mentioned signed now. We always go the "truck crossing route", but last time (10 days ago) the sign showed a shorter wait at Blaine so we went for it. Big mistake. I didn't have a map of Vancouver. We got stuck in stopped traffic funneling down to 1 or 2 lanes for the tunnel under the river, and lost 30 minutes there. Then, heading up 99, my husband suddenly spotted a sign that said to turn left. This was way before the downtown area, like around 44th St. I couldn't make the turn and was uncomfortable taking a new route, so we just stuck it out through downtown and finally made it to Whistler in 5.5 hours---a record for longest trip.

We thought that "new" route must take on up a parallel road a few blocks to the west of 99, but I haven't checked it out on a map.

From now on I'm sticking to 546/15 through Cloverdale and up to Hwy 1 no matter what the border crossing signs say! I really hated Lion's Gate Bridge in the dark with those reversible lanes and all the headlights coming toward us.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 08:50 PM
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Thanks! That was very helpful and exactly what I needed to know--I will not chance the traffic on 99 or the bridge or taking a badly signed turn. Hwy 15 it shall continue to be.

I think my longest trip was 5:45-6 and it was when we went through downtown as well. Never again.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 08:43 AM
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A couple of nights ago, CBC news from Vancouver said that Google was going to have some special Olympics-oriented features starting soon. Things like wait times, suggested routes, etc. I might also note that they said that parking is so tight in Whistler that there will be a checkpoint on the highway where drivers will be asked to show proof that they have parking available when they get to Whistler...motels, hotels etc are providing this documentation to those with reservations.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 09:45 AM
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Yes, there is a checkpoint on the road up to Whistler, a bit past Squamish.

The biggest probelm we encountered was the tunnel wait. There were advisories before hand saying "one lane thru tunnel", but this was after we were already committed to the 99 route, at least without a map to find our way over to 15. And I didn't realize how bad the wait could be until we came to a complete stop for 10 minutes or so, and then inched forward for the next 20.

The good news is that everyone we encountered seemd totally up for this, looking forward to hosting lots of international guests for the big party.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 12:07 PM
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We received our travel permit a few weeks ago from the condo owner. It has both a hologram and a bar code, and we were sent little suction cups so we could stick the 8x11" pass to our windshield so the guards could easily see it.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 03:59 PM
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"""christy1---I believe they have that route you mentioned signed now. We always go the "truck crossing route", but last time (10 days ago) the sign showed a shorter wait at Blaine so we went for it. Big mistake. I didn't have a map of Vancouver. We got stuck in stopped traffic funneling down to 1 or 2 lanes for the tunnel under the river, and lost 30 minutes there. Then, heading up 99, my husband suddenly spotted a sign that said to turn left. This was way before the downtown area, like around 44th St. I couldn't make the turn and was uncomfortable taking a new route, so we just stuck it out through downtown and finally made it to Whistler in 5.5 hours---a record for longest trip."""


This is SO right-on-target, and others who happen across this post (when someone revives it in 4 years or so) should be aware of that casual and unexpected "yeah, turn left here" while on some SURFACE STREET in Vancouver on the MAIN PATH from Seattle.

Visitors will want to note that BECAUSE VANCOUVER isn't (really) on the way to ANYWHERE (***Whistler doesn't count, with a population of 9595)... they have TERRIBLE FREEWAY/HIGHWAY systems. Magnifying how poor they are, is that there is WATER all around which further limits transporation options.

The "Sea to Sky" highway should be interpreted to mean that the best ways in and out of town are BY "sea" or "sky".
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 05:05 PM
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We always cross into Canada at Sumas or Lynden, WA...very short trip up to 1. Have never had any trouble negotiating Vancouver, though I haven't tried it at rush hour. Take Guide Meridian (Hwy 539) north off I5 in Bellingham.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 07:57 PM
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Yes, that last suggestion is the route I usually take to Whistler as well--B'ham to the Lynden/Aldergrove crossing, then to Rt. 1 west to Horseshoe Bay. I haven't run into a wait going into Canada at that crossing, even on a Friday afternoon/evening (coming back, I've only run into a long-ish wait once, usually it's very short).

Rt. 1 can be bad approaching downtown if it's around rush hour but if you can use the carpool lane that helps. But even with some traffic, still faster than going through downtown, that's for sure... I haven't taken the route you usually use however so can't compare...I would imagine the difference in wait times at the Blaine truck crossing vs Lynden would make the Lynden route faster though.
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