The U.S. border crossing on Route 6 in Vanceboro, Maine, in June 2017. Credit: DShaw20 / Wikimedia Commons

A small Washington County town is pushing back on a plan to reduce the hours of operation for the local Canadian border crossing, which they say could devastate families and the local economy.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency is planning to reduce operating hours at the border crossing in Vanceboro, about halfway between Calais and Houlton, from 24 hours a day to 12 hours — 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Vanceboro selectwoman Cheryl Long is worried that the reduction in hours will make it harder for interconnected families on both sides of the border to see each other, and that the change will push more travelers from Canada to cross the border through other ports, which would harm the local economy.

“We don’t have much left here in town,” Long said. “We need our gas stations. And the Canadians are a big part of keeping Vanceboro alive.”

Maine State Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, who once worked for the town, is pushing back against the plan.

When the crossing is closed, Evangelos said, residents would have to drive to Calais, 60 miles away, to check on family members who may be just a few miles over the border.

“Imagine you have a 90-year-old father or grandfather, or grandmother, that you need to check on, after 8 o’clock at night. You’ve got to drive 120 miles to go 4 miles,” he said. “I mean, it’s absurd.”

The town has arranged for a meeting to discuss the situation on July 5.

A CBP spokesperson says that many questions will be answered then, and that “many factors” go into decisions to reduce operations, including “port usage and resource allocation.”

This story appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.