Border crossing critical to continued economic development, says Congressman
Congressman Bill Owens today announced that construction is planned to resume next month on a new facility at the Churubusco border crossing. Upgrades on the port of entry are expected to be completed in spring of 2012. At this time, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) plans to operate the port as a one-way crossing, only accepting traffic traveling from Canada into the United States. However, the new facility will be able to support two-way port operations should Canada decide to reopen its border crossing or partner with CBP so that traffic can flow both ways.
"This construction is important to the continued economic development and security in north country border communities," said Owens. "I plan to continue my work with local leaders on both sides of the border to find a long-term solution that will allow the Canadian government to open their border crossing to two-way traffic. Creating a two-way crossing at this location will provide vital emergency services to the area and allow residents to continue to do their shopping, get their mail."
Canadian officials closed operations at the Churubusco port on April 1st, 2011, and American upgrades to the border crossing were suspended in August of last year. Now that construction has been slated to resume and the project is estimated to be completed next spring, the region's safety, security and local development will gain much-needed support from the new facility.
"The Canadian government was wrong to unilaterally close their side of this crossing," said Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. "We are very pleased that the U.S. construction project at Churubusco will proceed, and we thank Congressman Owens for his active and continuing leadership in this matter. We will continue to encourage our Canadian friends to reverse their action, or perhaps to pursue a shared two-way operation in the new facility on the U.S. side. These rural crossings may not seem important to someone high up in Ottawa, but each of them represents an historic and valued connection between neighbors, and we shouldn't simply accept the loss of any such connections."
Congressman Bill Owens has fought to keep the crossing at Churubusco open in his continued work to promote economic development and cross-border trade in the north country. This year, Owens asked President Obama to discuss with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper the possibility of co-locating joint facilities like the one in Churubusco in advance of the leaders' February meeting. After meeting with Members of the Canadian Parliament, Owens also wrote to Canadian Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, urging the official to reconsider the proposed border closings, and offered cost-effective alternatives including the use of remote processing technology and co-locating joint facilities.
CBP signed a $6.8 million contract for the modernization of the Churubusco Land Port of Entry, made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In announcing the restart of project construction, CBP cited the need for improved security in the area as the top reason for moving forward.