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Waste of the Day: Feds To Spend $85 Million On Remote Maine Border Crossing

Topline: The General Services Administration plans to spend $85 million to $95 million on renovations at a border crossing site in Maine, but the station is barely even being used.

The fifth-most expensive border crossing

Key facts: The Coburn Gore Land Port of Entry is the fifth-most expensive of 20 Canadian border crossing sites being renovated under the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Four other Maine border sites are getting funds, but none more than $45 million. The government has offered no explanation for the steep price tag at Coburn Gore and is not being transparent about the fact that the site barely has any visitors.

Waste of the Day: Feds To Spend $85 Million On Remote Maine Border Crossing
Waste of the Day 5.14.24 by Open the Books

The Department of Transportation stopped tracking visitors to Coburn Gore in 2018, and the GSA refused to provide more recent data to the Portland Press Herald. Even the outdated numbers show only 200 visitors per day, making it one of the least-traveled crossings in Maine. Reporters said they never saw more than two cars at once during a visit to the site this March.

The GSA said the construction will benefit surrounding restaurants and stores, but the Portland Press Herald pointed out that the only business near Coburn Gore crossing is a single gas station.

Staff say they need money to expand their office space and buy a camera to read license plates, but that should only cost a fraction of $95 million.

Background

Background: The Coburn Gore renovations continue a recent trend of a disproportionate amount of federal money flowing into Maine.

The Inflation Reduction Act is funding 156 “clean construction” projects around the country that use sustainable technology. Eight of them are in Maine. Only New York and Texas have more.

Maine also got $590 million in earmarks in this year’s federal budget, mostly for infrastructure. Only four states got more, OpenTheBooks’ researchers found.

That’s surprising given that Maine has the ninth-lowest population of any U.S. state.

Meanwhile, 372 bridges in Maine remain “structurally deficient,” meaning they have cracks or damage that could cause safety issues in the future.

The federal government gave Maine $90 million over the last two years to fix its bridges, and the same amount is going toward a single project at Coburn Gore.

Summary: Perhaps media coverage of Coburn Gore will increase traffic and undo some of the issue. As it is, many are seemingly unaware of this port of entry to Canada.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

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