BELLINGHAM, Wash. -

More than 16.2 million people crossed the Canada-U.S. border into Whatcom County last year, a 6 percent increase over the year before.

The Western Washington University Center for Economics and Business Research says it's the highest figure since 1997.

The Bellingham Herald reports traffic has increased nearly 50 percent in the past five years due to improved traffic flow and the value of the Canadian dollar.

The director of the center, Hart Hodges, expects border crossings will flatten out or decline in 2014 if the Canadian dollar continues to weaken this year and falls below 90 cents.