HELENA – Work on an $8.5 million construction project at a little-used border post between Montana and Saskatchewan has been temporarily halted after Canada announced it would close its side of the crossing that sees just five travelers a day.
It’s one of five Montana border posts that the U.S. government is upgrading with more than $23 million in Recovery Act funding. Critics have called the project a waste of taxpayer money.
Between now and Sept. 1, Department of Homeland Security officials will meet with Canadian authorities, and residents in Sheridan and Daniels counties, on what to do about the Whitetail Port of Entry, Sen. Jon Tester’s office said Friday.
“They’ll figure out what folks in that area want and what’s the best course of action for the port,” Tester spokeswoman Andrea Helling said.
The Montana Democrat requested that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection suspend work on the port of entry until the end of the month. CBP spokesman Mike Milne did not immediately return a call for comment Friday afternoon.
Earlier this week, Canadian border officials said they would close the Big Beaver Port of Entry, just across the border from Whitetail, on April 1. A review found that the crossing sees an average of five travelers per day and no commercial vehicles, and other crossings are available 17 miles and 34 miles away, Canadian border officials said.
On the other side of the border, the Whitetail Port of Entry’s renovation is to include a new architectural design, asbestos removal, electrical rewiring, excavation and carpentry work and the installation of fire alarms.
MCC Construction Corp. of Greenwood Village, Colo., the main contractor on the project, said it’s in its early phases. MCC Vice President Art Brazee was out of the office Friday and unavailable to comment, said a person who answered the phone at the company.
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