VAN BUREN, Maine — Dignitaries, politicians and community members were on hand Saturday morning as ground was broken for a new environmentally friendly $45 million port of entry connecting Maine to St. Leonard, New Brunswick.
“This state-of-the-art facility will provide accommodations for the appropriate mix of infrastructure, personnel and modern technology necessary for our officers to more efficiently and effectively secure our borders,” said Keith Fleming, area port director. “With this new facility [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] officers will be able to carry out their critical functions while facilitating trade and meeting the needs of the traveling public.”
The new facility, funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and scheduled for completion by July 2013, replaces the existing port of entry on Bridge Street. Designed by Julie Snow Architects Inc. of Minneapolis, with the build team of J&J Contractors Inc. of Lowell, Mass., and Robert Siegel Architects of New York, the planned facility has already been recognized for its concept design by the General Services Administration.
Among the facility’s planned features are repeating joints positioned to mirror surrounding trees, forest-camouflaged silkscreen-covered glass to admit daylight while controlling glare, geothermal heating and cooling, biodiesel boilers, solar hot water and LED light fixtures. The new port of entry has been registered with the US Green Building Council.
“Today’s groundbreaking marks the beginning of an immense undertaking made possible through a strong partnership between US Customs and Border Protection and the US General Services Administration,” said Bob Zarnetske, GSA regional administrator. “CBP and GSA have worked with local officials to design a new port that will use modern technology to enhance border security, speed the flow of commerce and reduce our reliance on foreign energy.”
The existing port of entry in Van Buren sustained damage during St. John River flooding in 2008. The new 44,000-square-foot facility will occupy a space between Bridge Street and the intersection of routes 1 and 1A.
Taking part in Saturday’s ceremony were U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and representatives of Sen. Olympia Snowe and Congressman Mikel Michaud.