The Canada-United States Transportation Border Working Group

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Border Crossing Database (BCD)

Many different entities own, operate, and maintain land border crossings on the Canada-U.S. border, and the rail and highway systems that serve them. Furthermore, trade and traffic data at border crossings, and within bi-national trade corridors, is collected by a multitude of agencies on both sides of the border. As a result, different kinds of information on border crossings is spread across a host of interested partners, such as customs agencies, federal departments, provinces and states. What is more, with a multitude of interested partners, infrastructure projects along the border have not always been advanced in a coordinated manner.

In the Spring of 2002, the TBWG formally recognized the need to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of border crossing facilities and of the scope of potential improvements at, or in support of, international crossings between the U.S. and Canada, and put forth an effort to assemble all pertinent border information in a single place. The New York State Department of Transportation, with the assistance of the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, agreed to lead a Subcommittee of TBWG members to undertake this effort. In 2003, the Subcommittee produced the first version of the Border Infrastructure Compendium.

The 2003 Compendium contains port descriptions (ie. ownership, physical layout, annual traffic data, etc.) as well as current information on on-going, planned and proposed infrastructure projects at border crossings, including their approaches. The Compendium focused on ports of entry with dedicated commercial operations or significant non-commercial traffic.

At the Fall 2004 TBWG plenary meeting in Calgary, the Compendium Subcommittee met to take stock of the project and to discuss next steps. Subcommittee members agreed that the project was worth pursuing further, and could be improved and updated throughout 2005. Transport Canada agreed to undertake the leadership of the Subcommittee work. ubcommittee members proceeded to enhance the crossing descriptions with commodity and other new data, and all information was updated to 2004. The result is an on-line Border Infrastructure Compendium that provides a full picture of the busiest Canada-U.S. commercial land border crossings.

The online database was upgraded and enhanced in 2009-2010. It now features multiple years of data and additional search options. For example, it allows users to rank border crossings by traffic counts and total value of trade. Going forward, work will continue on improving the quality of the data.

A few notes should be made regarding the current state of the data. The northbound traffic counts and two-way trade is obtained through Transport Canada’s Economic Analysis group, while the southbound traffic counts are from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Some traffic counts for bridges in Ontario have been obtained from the Public Border Operators Association. The traffic counts for some smaller Canadian (1) and U.S. (36) ports are not available and are believed to have been combined with larger crossings. Import and export data for some smaller Canadian (16) and U.S. (27) ports are also missing and believed to be combined with larger crossings. Other issues have been flagged and are an on-going concern of Transport Canada and the Federal Highway Administration.