U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King today helped cut the ribbon on the new Land Port of Entry (LPOE) in Van Buren, Maine. The event marked the Senators' first ever "virtual ribbon cutting," as they connected in Washington, D.C. via video conference with federal, state and local officials located at the LPOE in Van Buren and the Boston offices of the General Services Administration (GSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Located on a 22-acre site on the northeastern border of Maine, the 44,000 square foot facility screens and welcomes travelers and workers and will use modern technology to enhance border security, speed the flow of commerce, and save energy.
After floods damaged the LPOE on May 1, 2008, the GSA initially considered repairing the facility instead of replacing it, which would have only increased the building's usability by five to ten years. Senator Collins visited the damaged facility in July of 2008 and sent a letter to the CBP and GSA which successfully advocated for the replacement of the building using disaster relief funds. Senator Collins also helped secure winterization of the temporary facility, which remains on the site to this day. This past May Senator King also toured the new facility for the first time since taking office as it neared the end of the construction process.
Senator Collins and King also announced today that the new facility has been upgraded from a Permit port to a commercial port of entry, providing the region with a new full service commercial screening station, which will support commercial vehicle traffic. Over the years, Senator Collins has repeatedly stressed the importance of making Van Buren a commercial port of entry in both letters to and meetings with secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security and leaders of the CBP.
"Following the devastating floods in 2008, I toured the temporary facilities in Van Buren and recognized the need to modernize them to meet the challenges of securing the border while supporting a robust exchange of visitors between the U.S. and Canada," said U.S. Senator Susan Collins. "I am pleased to join so many in celebrating this new state-of-the-art facility, which sets a standard that will benefit the people and businesses of this region for years to come. With this modern facility and the continued dedication of those who work here, our new front door will be both secure and welcoming."
"The new Van Buren Port of Entry is an extraordinary facility that will not only enhance our nation's border security, but also encourage and promote trade, commerce, and cross-border relationships," U.S. Senator Angus King said. "I applaud the collaborative work of the General Services Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and all of the national and local firms involved throughout the design and construction process. Without question, this state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly facility will greatly benefit Maine and the nation for years to come."
Senators Collins and King were joined today in Washington by Kevin Weeks, the Director of Field Operations for the CBP in Boston; Dan Tangherlini, the Administrator of the GSA; and Robert Zarnetske, the GSA's Regional Administrator for the New England Region.