New Border Station Open at Portal - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

New Border Station Open at Portal

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The second-busiest border crossing point in North Dakota now has a new home.

The Portal Port of Entry has seen huge increases in cars, buses, and trucks coming into the US from Canada in the most recent year.

Truck traffic was up 35% in 2011 over 2010.

And the number of cars coming across the border was up 15%.

The increase happened while work was finishing up on the long-delayed, 43-million dollar facility that covers about eight times the space of the old port.

And now, the waiting is over and the new port of entry is serving its purpose.

(Brent Beeter, Portal Port Director) "This is where the primary inspections are, where you talk to the officer..."

And this is where you'll realize you're not in the 80-year-old port of entry anymore. The new complex sprawls across several acres and includes five buildings, dwarfing the old brick building that used to be the entire port.

(Brent Beeter, Portal Port Director) "We'll have a lot more space. As you can see that small building was home to three agencies so now we have a lot more space, the technology is much better, the infrastructure for us to be able to get trucks, trains, cars through this port of entry is much better."

Where there used to be one car and one truck lane, there now are five lanes total where Customs and Border Protection guards can assess cars, trucks, and buses, and their occupants.

(Brent Beeter, Portal Port Director) "You look at any information on the individuals and vehicles and determine their reaction to determine if they are a threat to the US or if they are not."

But what if an agent is concerned about either the people or materials trying to cross into the US? If it's a car, the occupants would be asked to come inside for more review and their car would be thoroughly inspected. If it's one of the 100-thousand-plus trucks coming across the border each year, it's off to a new part of the facility - a truck garage where the entire contents of the truck can be inspected.

(Brent Beeter, Portal Port Director) "Here's something we've never had before. We can take semis, bring them inside, and unload the contents."

In addition, there's a new, indoor area to X-ray trucks that are in question. That's in addition to the standard lanes everyone passes through where an X-ray inspection is done, looking for things like bombs or bomb materials. Director Brent Beeter says they take this job very seriously since an attempt by terrorists or others to get into the US could happen anywhere.

(Brent Beeter, Portal Port Director) "That's why we make sure we're doing our job to prevent anyone from coming in that's coming to work illegally, or coming to do harm to the United States."

There are also new areas for agricultural inspections, new computer training and conference rooms, a firing range for officers to stay current on their marksmanship, and much more. Beeter says the delays caused by construction problems and budget overruns are now behind them.

(Brent Beeter, Portal Port Director) "It took a few extra years than we expected but we worked through the problems and got it done."

And in front of them? A larger, more efficient space to do the job of securing the border - and a space that Beeter figures will be around a long time.

(Brent Beeter, Portal Port Director) "This one should last us for 100, 120 years."

In Portal, Jim Olson, KX News.

Brent Beeter is a North Dakota native who has been director of the Portal Port of Entry since 1991.

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