DERBY LINE - A meeting is scheduled to discuss the possibly of putting a gate at the U.S./Canadian border on Route 5 in Derby Line, and the idea is already generating mixed comments.
Apparently many people are still driving into the United States without checking in at U.S. Customs, and traffic is continuing to build up and create conflict. GSA (U.S. General Services Administration) reached out to Derby Line officials regarding a meeting to address the issue.
Those attempting to enter the United States from Stanstead, Quebec, at the Derby Line Port of Entry must drive south into the United States before coming to the port, which sits to the west. During heavy traveling times, traffic is backing up on Main Street from Stanstead and preventing people using Caswell Avenue in Derby Line from getting on to Main Street. Drivers are forced to go up the wrong side of the road and face a potential head on collision or other accident. Travelers are growing increasingly agitated, are honking horns and nearly getting into physical fights.
Derby Line Village Clerk Karen Jenne heard about the meeting through Tom Eberhardt with GSA, but did not know if it was intended as a public meeting or not. Jenne is warning the public about the meeting in case more than one village trustee decides to attend. If more than one trustee shows, it would be a public meeting under the Open Meeting Law.
The meeting is warned for noon on Friday on Main Street near the port. Calls to Eberhardt for answers on the exact location and for more details were not returned by press time Wednesday.
Trustee Keith Beadle said he doesnâ€™t want to see any more gates. He would rather see the port open up the second lane to handle more traffic. He says the extra personnel would help draw more attention to those who attempt to drive on without going through customs first.
Jenne has concerns over mutual aide and emergency responders getting through. She also raised concerns over the steep hill, if people are forced to stop at the bottom of it in the winter and then try to make it to the top.
The exact location for a possible gate has not been determined.
Mayor Philippe Dutil of Stanstead did not know anything about the meeting when contacted Wednesday, but he said he would support some measure, depending on how itâ€™s done, to help deal with the problem. He suggested a better location for the port; possibly have a joint U.S./Canadian port with each on either side of the building to assist confused motorists.
Canada just last week blocked Church Street in Derby Line with large flower pots to help alleviate the traffic problems there and deal with illegal entry issues.