Border Prep for the 2010 Olympic’s

U.S. officials have unveiled their plans for dealing with an increase in traffic from B.C. during the 2010 Winter Olympics, with up to 12,000 people a day expected to cross the border into the U.S. during the Games.

While the Olympics are being held in Canada, the number of visitors drawn to the entire region — and into the U.S. — is expected to rise dramatically.

The U.S. officials said at a news conference in Blaine, Wash., on Tuesday they will have 10 primary inspection booths running — two more than normal at the busy Peace Arch crossing, south of Vancouver.

One extra booth will open in each of Lynden and Sumas, in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver.

Officials estimate that every day during the Olympics in February will be like a busy summer day.

“Those are the projections that we’ve been given, time and time again,” said U.S. Customs and Border protection spokeswoman Michele James.

Most crossings not affected

Summer days at the Peace Arch crossing can involve delays of up to two hours, in either direction.

A new $70-million U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility at the Peace Arch crossing was originally planned to be ready for the Games, but construction delays have put the opening back to December 2010.

The 12 other B.C. crossings, most of them hundreds of kilometres east of Games sites in Vancouver and Whistler, are not expected to experience a significant increase in traffic volume.

James urged travellers to think about using border crossings other than Peace Arch, to plan travel for off-peak hours, and to ease the time it takes to cross by having their documents ready.

Major border crossings between Washington state and B.C. are open 24 hours a day.