ALEXANDRIA BAY, N.Y. – On July 19, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony the brand new state-of-the-art Port of Entry at Alexandria Bay. The completion of this modernization project was a long time coming, with an unanticipated pandemic during the middle of construction. The main goal of the port expansion project was to increase efficiency and improve traffic flow.
Back on August 30, 2017, the Port of Entry began a $215 million expansion project. The Port of Entry is located on Wellesley Island, New York which is on the western part of the Saint Lawrence River. The port is the sixth busiest crossing on the U.S.-Canadian border, processing nearly 600,000 passenger vehicles each year.
The Port of Entry has existed since 1938 when the Thousand Islands International Bridge System was constructed. The Bridge System connects Wellesley Island to Hill Island in Ontario, Canada. The previous Main Administration Building and Passenger Processing Facility was built in 1975 by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority. Over the years, the facility became outdated and no longer met the needs of the agency.
The port expansion project included two phases, with the phase one being completed in October 2020. Phase two was completed in March 2022, that included the construction of passenger inbound and outbound inspection areas and the port administration.
“It’s a state of the art facility that greatly enhances our officers ability to screen incoming passenger and commercial traffic,” said Area Port Director Timothy Walker.
The facility is completely modernized and includes Port Director Offices, a conference room, a Mission Support Suite, a computer lab, a muster room and an agriculture lab. Additionally, the facility has a suite for Homeland Security Investigations.
The port also has a passenger secondary-inspection plaza and a bus inspection site that has Non-Intrusive Inspection Equipment. Lastly, the facility has interview rooms, a seizure-processing room, holding areas for detention and a tactical and physical training area with a weapons support room.
The facility is equipped with eight passenger inspection lanes to include a bus lane, an enclosed passenger secondary inspection building with a vehicle lift and canopy for secondary inspection parking. To accommodate outbound inspections, the facility has an outbound processing office with two outbound inspection lanes and an outbound secondary inspection canopy.
“The biggest features of this new facility are the increased space created for queuing traffic and the additional booths to process passenger, cargo and bus traffic. The new port was built about 300 yards south of the old facility. The old port was so close to the border line that there was never any room to queue the vehicles during high volume traffic. This has always caused traffic issues and delays to our neighbors to the north,” said Assistant Area Port Director Kurt Tennant.