A view of the current Houlton Border Patrol Station in Houlton. Credit: Alexander MacDougall / Houlton Pioneer Times

HOULTON, Maine — The current border station in Houlton, a building designed for eight people that houses more than 30, will be relocated closer to the interstate and upgraded to a larger facility.

The Department of Homeland Security announced in its 2022 fiscal year budget that a new station will be built in Houlton, estimated to be completed sometime around June 2024, according to Tammy Melvin, a spokesperson for Homeland Security. The budget includes $32 million to fund the design and construction of the station.

“With the new facility, agents will be able to stage all of their equipment at one location, which will allow for quicker deployment to the field,” Melvin said. “Some examples of this equipment are ATVs, snowmobiles and boats.”

Currently, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents in Houlton must travel to a different location to retrieve stored equipment, which Homeland Security said could cause delays in deploying agents to patrol areas.

Customs and Border Patrol will partner with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to acquire property for the new location, with purchases to be funded by appropriations from the previous fiscal year. The new facility will be located closer to the intersection of Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1, in order to reduce fuel consumption, according to Homeland Security. The current station is located 2 miles from I-95.

The current facility, located at 591 North St., was built in 1995 and designed to accommodate eight border agents. Homeland Security noted in its budget that the facility now generally has 40 agents and one support staff assigned to the Houlton station. The new facility will have enough space for 50 border patrol agents.

“The project consists of a 16,100-square-foot main building and 23,000 square feet of support space,” the description of the new station said. “This includes a two-bay vehicle maintenance facility, three kennels, ATV storage for 14 vehicles, a heliport, an emergency generator, a one-bay car wash, and 16,092 square feet of enclosed parking to accommodate 33 vehicles.”

Though the new station will accommodate more than the number of agents currently assigned, Melvin said there are no plans to increase the number of agents in the sector. There are vacant positions at the station that Customs and Border Patrol plans to fill, she said.

There are 187 agents stationed throughout the Houlton sector, which encompasses the entirety of Maine’s border with Canada.