Vanceboro / Saint Croix – Saint Croix-Vanceboro Bridge Border Crossing – Maine Route 6 / New Brunswick Route 4
Photo DShaw20 Wikimedia.org Creative Commons
Jayna Smith, [email protected]
Washington County is home to a few international bordering crossings: Lubec, which leads to Campobello Island, New Brunswick; Forest City, which leads to Forest City, New Brunswick; three crossings in Calais, which lead to St. Stephen, New Brunswick; and Vanceboro, which leads to McAdam, New Brunswick.
Recently, State Representative Jeffrey Evangelos (I-Friendship), who lives four hours from Vanceboro, but where he started his public service career back in 1974, learned of the proposal to reduce hours of operation at the Vanceboro Port of Entry. This proposal would close the crossing from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily beginning this fall.
In an appeal to the port director, Evangelos demanded a public hearing before any change in operating hours takes place. “I think we all know that northern Washington County is an economically distressed area. However, Route 6 remains the lifeline for the towns of Topsfield, Codyville, Lambert Lake, and Vanceboro, as well as other surrounding communities and towns around McAdam, NB, as well. However, this proposal to reduce the border hours runs well beyond economic hardships,” he noted in his email.
Evagelos went on further, providing relevant examples of the hardships the reduced hours would cause. “This proposal also affects access to Calais, the service center in northern Washington County, where there is a hospital, grocery stores, and all other life dependent services. The distance from Vanceboro to Calais driving the Canadian way is 26 miles. It's almost 60 miles driving from Calais to Vanceboro using the American route. So a person working a night shift in Calais will now be faced with a 60-mile drive home after 8 p.m., with $6 [a gallon for] gasoline. This is unreasonable.”
According to Evangelos, public hearings on all matters before any changes in law or regulations go into effect are required. This is necessary to gauge and collect public input from taxpayers “who pay the bills of the state and federal government.” This, he wrote, “is a necessary step of a functioning democracy.”
A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection told this publication, “The Vanceboro border crossing is currently open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be holding a public informational meeting on July 5 at the Vanceboro Community Center to discuss any potential reduction in hours.”
The spokesperson added, “CBP continues to operate three other border crossings in the area [each located in Calais], including International Avenue and Ferry Point, which operate 24/7, and Milltown which operates from 8 am to 4 pm daily.”
“My government should be investing in these economically distressed communities, not putting nails in their coffin. Think about any possible economic development prospects for the region when there is no border crossing open from Houlton to Calais. Dead on arrival pretty well sums it up,” Evangelos said.