Ground Breaking Ceremony Kicks Off Start of New Port Construction
September 13, 2021
(From left) Drew Dilks, GSA; Andy Herbine, J&J Contractor's Inc.; Gary Picard, Madawaska Town Manager; Scott Cyr, Madawaska LPOE Port Director; Alexandria Kelly, GSA; William Ferrara, CBP Executive Assistant Commissioner; Glenn Rotondo, GSA; Bruce Van Note, MaineDOT.
The Madawaska Multi Purpose Center, a large building typically used for recreational activities in town, was transformed into a ceremonial site to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Madawaska Land Port of Entry project.
Less than a mile from the actual site location, rain brought the event inside where the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), town officials, delegation representatives, and various stakeholders gathered to kick off the start of construction.
Paul Hughes, GSA Public Affairs Officer and MC, welcomed the 50 attendees before the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Honor Guard posted the colors. Ruby Picard, local resident, and head of security for Twin Rivers Paper Company sang the U.S. and Canadian National Anthems.
Despite attendees wearing masks, the smiles and excitement of all those involved was still evident during the ceremony, as this project begins construction 18 years after the initial prospectus development study was done.
GSA Acting Regional Administrator and PBS Regional Commissioner Glenn Rotondo focused on the importance of the port of entry for both the town of Madawaska and the communities over the border in Canada.
“These communities are connected with deep cultural heritages that go back to the founding of the country,” Rotondo said. “People who live along the border depend on this deep, cross-border community engagement, often crossing through the ports on a daily basis for jobs, mutual aid, and everyday life.”
CBP Executive Assistant Commissioner William Ferrara emphasized Rotondo’s point stating that the collaboration between not only the communities, but the Canadian Border Services are exceptional.
“I worked in Calais, Maine for five years,” said Ferrara. “I understand the importance of a bridge and a port of entry to a community. As I’ve grown in my career, I understand the importance of those bridges and these ports of entry having the technology to not only protect our local communities but to protect our nation.”
The facility that is currently standing today was built in 1959 after it was concluded that a lack of adequate facilities on the international bridge was causing bottlenecking across the river into the Canadian town of Edmundston, New Brunswick.
Fast forward to today, the port building is considered significantly antiquated for CBP’s mission and the number of vehicles that travel through daily.
The new state-of-the-art port will be an energy efficient, sustainable, LEED Gold certified facility that offers high end technology for the CBP officers stationed there.
A letter read by Trisha House on behalf of Senator Susan Collins reiterated this sentiment.
“Meeting the dual obligations of protection and openness of our border requires up-to-date technology that will expedite the thorough and efficient processing of people and cargo at our ports of entry,” she read. “More importantly, it requires the dedication of the trained men and women of Customs and Border Protection.”
Letters were also read by Jordyn Madore on behalf of Senator Angus King; Barbara Hayslett on behalf of Congressman Jared Golden; and Bruce Van Note, Commissioner of MaineDOT on behalf of Governor Janet Mills.
While the event could not be held at the actual site, contractors from J&J Contractors, Inc. built a sandbox with dirt where all stakeholders broke ground, officially commemorating the start of construction on this momentous project.