ST. STEPHEN, N.B. - New Brunswick and the state of Maine are in talks to create a new border crossing in St. Stephen, N.B."This is the only new border crossing currently being considered in Canada, an...
ST. STEPHEN, N.B. – New Brunswick and the state of Maine are in talks to create a new border crossing in St. Stephen, N.B.
“This is the only new border crossing currently being considered in Canada, and we are seeing this as an opportunity to showcase the benefits of smart technologies and transportation,” says Tracy Burkhardt, director of communications for the New Brunswick department of transportation.
It is a real chance to do it right from the ground up and create a model for safety and security and trade, says Burkhardt.
St. Stephen Mayor, Bob Brown, likens the border situation in his town to that in Windsor, Ont.
“We are the Windsor of the Maritimes. We’re the number one point of entry but the problem is the bottleneck at the bridge, we are the shortest route and once we get a new bridge we will also be the fastest and most efficient route as well,” says Brown.
According to Brown, the St. John Board of Trade sees this border opportunity as the number one economic issue for the area.
“We formed the Maine-New Brunswick Trade Corridor Committee last March, and we have met with business leaders, including members of the trucking industry and have been met with support for this project,” Brown says.
The province has been working with stakeholders at each level of government on both sides of the border, but Burkhardt says the department is working hard to keep these issues in the forefront with the federal governments.
In the meantime, New Brunswick is asking Ottawa to split the $100 million bill for upgrades to existing border crossings at St. Stephen, N.B./Calais, Me. and the Woodstock, N.B./Houlton, Me.
“The trucking industry has been very supportive of this project and these two border crossings are really the gateways in the U.S. for all of Atlantic Canada so the entire region is watching this,” says Burkhardt.
Plans include twinning 24 kilometres of highway between St. Stephen and Waweig, and 12 kilometres between Woodstock and Houlton.
The proposal also includes the installation of several intelligent transportation system applications, namely a FAST dedicated lane, a NEXUS dedicated lane, a commercial vehicle inspection system and an automatic vehicle identification system.
The implementation of these smart technologies would allow for seamless border crossing for commercial vehicles.
“We are excited to see our first FAST interview centre for drivers coming to the Woodstock – Houlton crossing, hopefully by mid to late summer. Any improvements to our border crossings will help serve the 2.4 million Atlantic Canadians,” says Ralph Boyd, president of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association in Dieppe, N.B.
One in four vehicles that travel the Woodstock – Houlton border are commercial vehicles and the St. Stephen – Calais border is the eighth busiest border crossing in Canada, so both are in need of improvements, says Burkhardt.