Take Note

October 17, 2001 1 min read

Traffic Jam

Heightened security measures at U.S.-Canadian border crossings since last month’s terrorist attacks on the East Coast have made students in the 900-person community of Point Roberts, Wash., early risers.

Point Roberts, a 5-square-mile peninsula just outside Vancouver, British Columbia, was given to the United States in 1846 in the settlement of a boundary dispute. It is accessible by land only through Canada.

The town has just one school, which means that most of its students—all in grades 4-12—attend school in the 1,900-student Blaine, Wash., school district. By land, that requires crossing the border in two places.

Border crossings were an everyday occurrence for most local residents, who normally faced a 40-minute commute from Point Roberts to Blaine. But since Sept. 11, officials have stepped up security measures—which can mean one-way drives of up to three hours and getting up as early as 5 a.m.

Even the Peace Arch Crossing Entry, or PACE, lanes, which identify and track cars using a decal located on the front windshield, are closed. Traffic now backs up for several miles each day in both directions, making it difficult for parents, students, and teachers to get to school.

Nancy Bakarick, the principal of the 38-student Point Roberts Primary School, says the adjustment has been hard.

“It has impacted the high school students who drive themselves the most,” she said. “But parents have also had a hard time getting to school functions and open houses.”

Border officials have made an exception for school buses, which continue to use the PACE lanes, the principal said. But many staff members who live in Canada now walk or bike to work.

“Parents have had problems getting here to take their children home or to the doctor,” Ms. Bakarick added. “We’ve started walking the children to the border, and then they’re passed through to parents who have parked on the other side.”

—Marianne Hurst