The St John Valley Border Crossing Feasibility Study
The St. John Valley Border Crossing Feasibility Study was kicked off in spring of 2009 as the result of a bill passed by the Maine Legislature that asked MaineDOT, in cooperation with the US General Services Administration (GSA) and New Brunswick DOT (NB DOT), to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate the need for a new commercial border crossing in the Upper St. John Valley.
The study examined how the planned improvements at the Madawaska (ME)-Edmundston (New Brunswick) and Van Buren (ME)-St. Leonard (New Brunswick) border crossings will affect the flow of commercial traffic between Maine and New Brunswick, and whether sufficient need exists for a new commercial border crossing.
In addition to MaineDOT, GSA and NB DOT, two other government agencies provided technical assistance and oversight for this project. These study team members included:
- United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
The Study’s conclusions
The Study’s conclusions are as follows:
- Each of the subject border crossing facilities has physical layout and traffic movement deficiencies. However, planned improvements at Madawaska and Van Buren will address traffic and safety issues at each crossing.
- The planned border station upgrades at Madawaska-Edmundston and Van Buren-St. Leonard ensure sufficient capacity to accommodate both passenger and commercial traffic to the year 2030.
- CBSA has not identified the need to expand its facilities and services at the northern New Brunswick border crossing locations.
- A major service improvement for commercial traffic will be the elimination of the CBP permit port classification for both US border crossings.
- Both ports have experienced a decline in traffic over the 2000 to 2008 time period.
- The average estimated time savings for commercial haulers related to the planned border station upgrades for the Madawaska-Edmundston and Van Buren-St. Leonard are estimated at about 7 minutes. For a new commercial crossing, commercial vehicles would save an additional 3 to 4 minutes over the current drive times - a modest positive benefit.
- The construction of a new commercial crossing facility could have a total economic impact of approximately 1,600 jobs and $225 million (US) in wages.
Based on the findings and conclusions presented, this study offers the following recommendations:
- The study recommends that MaineDOT, NB DOT, and GSA examine an improved downtown connection between the proposed Madawaska border station and the existing Edmundston border station.
- However, further study of a new (third) commercial border crossing in the Upper St. John Valley is not recommended.
- Finally, the traffic flow improvements identified in NB DOT’s Atlantic Gateway Border Traffic and Infrastructure Study should be reviewed and further developed for both respective border crossing facilities.
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