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Cablegate: Mapping the Border: Construction Underway On New U.S. Land

VZCZCXRO6665
RR RUEHGA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHHA #0035 1372043
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 162043Z MAY 08
FM AMCONSUL HALIFAX
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1282
INFO RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0528
RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RUEHHA/AMCONSUL HALIFAX 1370

UNCLAS HALIFAX 000035

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAN, CA/PPT/IA/WHTI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV PREL CPAS ASEC WHTI CA
SUBJECT: MAPPING THE BORDER: CONSTRUCTION UNDERWAY ON NEW U.S. LAND
PORT OF ENTRY AT CALAIS, MAINE--NEW BRIDGE AND CANADIAN FACILITY ON
SCHEDULE

REF: (A) HALIFAX 0028; (B) 07 HALIFAX 0012

1. According to the GSA Regional Office in Boston, the
contractor building the new Land Port of Entry (LPOE) for
DHS/CBP at Calais, Maine, has completed about 10% of the work.
Meanwhile, the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT)
contractor building the new international bridge across the St.
Croix River is on schedule to finish by September 2008 and the
new Canadian LPOE is expected to be built by the end of December
2008. Thus, there is a strong likelihood that the new bridge
will sit idle for ten months while commercial and tourist
traffic continue clog the streets of Calais, ME, and St.
Stephen, NB. GSA expects the contractor to complete the entire
$48 million, 52-acre facility by November 2009. Despite efforts
by GSA, it appears highly unlikely that the construction of the
LPOE can be sequenced so as to accommodate a partial opening for
commercial-only traffic in the summer of 2009.

2. The U.S. construction firm began working on the new U.S. LPOE
in February 2008; however, the official ground breaking ceremony
occurred in mid-April. Maine's Governor John Baldacci, Senator
Susan Collins, and Congressman Mike Michaud were on hand for the
event, as was GSA Administrator Doan. In her speech,
Administrator Doan noted that, "This is the first time in our
nation's history that we have four new Land Ports of Entry...all
under construction at one time." Two of the four are on the
southern border. The other two are in Jackman and Calais, Maine.

3. Administrator Doan went on to say that, "GSA is igniting a
building boom at land ports across the nation, building what we
can, where we can, as fast as we can. We need more inspection
booths, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure to meet demands
from legitimate trade and travelers who are too often caught in
long lines...Expect GSA to push this issue with even greater
urgency--not tomorrow, but today. We will build on the excellent
start already made in Calais and Jackman. Our focus will be to
identify, approve and begin construction on a number of
projects, both large and small, at every single land port where
traffic is stalled." (NB: GSA Administrator Doan announced her
resignation on April 30, 2008. David Bibb is now Acting
Administrator.)

4. COMMENT: Having construction underway on the new U.S. LPOE
project in Calais is a positive development that will eventually
lead to the decongestion of the streets of Calais and St.
Stephen. Still, the asynchronous construction schedules will
mean that we can anticipate continued complaints and political
pressure from businesses and travelers (from both sides of the
border) who are caught up in the ongoing delays at the existing
crossings at Ferry Point and Milltown--especially if the new
bridge and Canadian border facility are completed on time, ten
months ahead of the U.S. facility. END COMMENT.

FOSTER

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