CHAMPLAIN Improvements to the Champlain-Lacolle border crossing are nearing completion, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In a press release issued Oct. 22, it was stated Customs and Border Protection officials were able to utilize all 10 new passenger vehicle lanes during Columbus Day weekend an increase from seven lanes at the previous facility. The additional lanes significantly reduced border wait times compared to last year at that time, though traffic volume was approximately the same. The progress at the border crossing is much to the delight of Garry F. Douglas, president of the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce. The organization has served as the lead advocate for the Port of Excellence project, securing more than $107 million in federal and state funds, as well as $75 million in Canadian and Quebec funds for related improvements north of the border. Champlain is now a true Port of Excellence, possessing the most expansive, flexible and modern facilities of any U.S.-Canadian border crossing, said Douglas. The completion of the new car and bus lanes will mark a real milestone in our connection with Quebec, which in turn is the single most important element of our future economic well being. Last years opening of the new commercial facilities effectively eliminated truck delays at Champlain, said Douglas, creating the most efficient commercial gateway on the entire northern border. The idea is that increased efficiency will attract trade and investment to the North Country and Quebec, he said. While we can never eliminate all delays on the car side during peak times, this represents a 40 percent increase in capacity which will go a long ways toward facilitating flow, said Douglas. In February, the Canadian government committed an additional $10 million for improvements at the Champlain-Lacolle border crossing. The appropriation was made through the Canadian governments Gateways and Border Crossings Fund, which is designed to improve the flow of goods between Canada and the rest of the world. The Canadian government has also injected $174 million in to its federal budget over the next two years to increase border security and efficiency. That amount includes $75 million for Canada Border Services Agency operations and $14 million to expand the NEXUS program. As for the projects next steps, the dedicated NEXUS lane that was temporarily relocated to the FAST commercial lane during construction, will be returned to its original location in the passenger vehicle lane Monday, Nov. 10. Signs will be posted to instruct NEXUS participants to use the dedicated lane at the far left as they approach the primary inspection lanes. U.S. Customs and Border Protection looks forward to working in the new state of the art facility, as well as the benefits it will provide to the traveling public, acting port director Steven Bronson stated in the release. Bronson added there may still be occasions when the volume of arriving traffic exceeds the limits of U.S. inspection facilities, and motorists are encouraged to check traffic conditions and travel options before deciding their route. The Lacolle-Champlain border crossing is one of the 10 busiest U.S.-Canada commercial border crossings. In 2006, Lacolle accounted for approximately 735,000 commercial vehicle crossings 398,000 of which were to the U.S. and 337,000 to Canada amounting to approximately 2,000 commercial vehicles per day.