Madawaska port of entry opening delayed to early June

1 month ago

MADAWASKA, Maine – The Madawaska Land Port of Entry opening has been delayed to the first week of June, according to the U.S. General Services Administration. 

GSA Regional Public Affairs Officer Paul Hughes said on Wednesday that GSA’s work on the port will be completed by the end of the month but work by other agencies still needs to be done.

“GSA is working with [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] and the state of Maine to coordinate work that they need to undertake upon GSA completion,” Hughes said. “At this time, it is anticipated that the port will be open for traffic no later than the first week of June.”

Paul Merrill, Director of Communications for MaineDOT, said construction of the new bridge was put on hold between late December and early January. Since then, contractors have removed the in-water work trestle under the new bridge.

“In the next few weeks, that in-water work trestle will be reinstalled at the old bridge to help with demolition,” he said. “Demolition of the existing bridge will occur this summer.”

Merrill said work will resume when the GSA is ready to open the new port of entry and traffic is moved to the new bridge.

Remaining bridge work includes setting beams, placing concrete deck, installing bridge rail, final paving, and striping, Merrill said.

And though traffic will be able to use the new bridge in about three months, Merrill said these final pieces of the project may extend into the fall and potentially into spring of 2025 due to the timing of paving operations and cold weather.

Hughes said supply chain delays for certain materials have factored into the delayed opening date.

The new $65 million port of entry leads to a new bridge that connects Madawaska and the Canadian city of Edmundston, New Brunswick. The new bridge project was awarded to contractor Reed & Reed for a bid of $86,532,251. The total cost for the bridge project, including demolition, is estimated to be roughly $97.5 million.

In the meantime, traffic can still go to and from Canada via the current bridge, which is about a century old and was posted at five tons in 2017. 

The idea for the new bridge came about in the early 2000s, when officials on both sides of the border noted that it was showing its age. It was also around this time that the GSA, Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection began plans to replace the old Madawaska port of entry, which was built in 1959. The old port had no room for expansion and lacked the office and inspection spaces needed to meet the needs of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The new port, once completed, will house numerous officials and staff and training facilities and will also be certified as energy efficient and sustainable by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The opening date was originally set for late 2023. Before being delayed to June, the opening was also delayed to mid-March, with plans to lift the five-ton weight restriction in early May.

For roughly the past seven years, trucks over five tons have had to travel roughly an extra half hour to cross at either the Fort Kent or Van Buren border. 

And while regular traffic will be able to cross the new bridge via the new port of entry in June, a date has not been set for when vehicles over five tons will be able to cross.

“GSA continues to coordinate its efforts with MaineDOT, which will determine when the weight restriction can be lifted and allow full traffic to cross,” Hughes said.

This story was updated with new information supplied by MaineDOT.