MADAWASKA, Maine — The Financial Services Appropriations bill that includes $50 million for a new Madawaska land port of entry is on the way to the U.S. Senate for approval after passing in the House of Representatives last week.
The current structure located at the base of Bridge Street was built in 1959 and in 2008 saw more than 1,900 vehicles a day pass through on their way into Maine from Edmundston, New Brunswick. Of those, 1,817 were passenger vehicles and 87 were trucks, according to statistics supplied by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Congressional Affairs.
“This new facility is a long time coming,” U.S. 2nd District Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, said in a statement. “This new facility will improve security as well as commerce and traffic flow at our border in Madawaska.”
The $46.2 billion appropriations bill funds several major federal agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Product and Safety Commission.
Inclusion of the funds in the appropriations bill, according to Ed Gilman, spokesman for Michaud, were at the direct request of President Obama and the funds would be administered by the federal General Services Administration.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, worked to include wording in the bill stressing federal and local cooperation in planning and constructing the new port.
“The committee urges the GSA to make every possible attempt to address community concerns during the development stage of all GSA projects,” Collins said. “The committee directs GSA to coordinate with the community leaders and stakeholders in Madawaska to address concerns during the development of the new port of entry.”
According to Gilman, members of the Maine delegation have “worked for a decade” to secure funding for a new port facility.
“The Madawaska Port of Entry has long played a pivotal role in U.S.-Canada relations, helping to accommodate the free flow of commerce and personal travel across our border,” said U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe. “With more than $50 million in federal funding dedicated to improving the infrastructure at Madawaska, we can ensure this vital community has access to the tools and resources it needs to continue to protect our country and promote a safe environment while crossing the border.”
According to officials, it’s long overdue.
“The current port no longer meets [U.S. Custom and Border Patrol] needs,” said Cathy Menzies, spokeswoman for the GSA in Boston. “It is obsolete and undersized [and] the new port will allow the agency to carry out their mission.”
The Senate now must approve the entire appropriations bill and Gilman said he anticipates action in the next few months.