Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Military Urged to Help Upgrade Guam's Roads

Military urged to help upgrade Guam roads
Tuesday April 1, 2008
By Therese Hart
Variety News Staff

THE proposed 85-mile islandwide haul road network that the Department of Public Works presented to the Guam Legislature during its roundtable discussion of the military buildup yesterday will be part of the estimated $2 billion that would be needed to upgrade Guam's infrastructure.

But DPW Director Larry Perez assured senators that retired general David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, made a policy statement 10 months ago that Guam roadways and the Port Authority of Guam were major priorities in the military buildup and that the military will thus assist in some of the financing.

The $2 billion cost also includes upgrades and improvement of existing projects and new projects that are military-related, including projects by the Guam Power Authority, Guam Waterworks Authority, and DPW.

Haul roads are a system of roads that are well designed and constructed in a way that will make heavy traffic operation safer, more productive and cause less wear and tear on equipment.

Perez said that the military gave DPW the authority to come up with the transportation network and the cost analysis. Perez said the timelines are in place for the military to include the numbers in its budget.

Perez said that DPW submitted to Bice the project's total cost and he's hoping that the military will bear 95 percent or more of the cost.

Perez said that DPW proposes that the military pay the construction and excavation costs of the work. The bulk of the funding will come from the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, but Guam will also have to contribute to the cost.

* No commitment *

Senators, however, expressed their concern that the military has yet to give a definitive commitment to partially fund the highway project.

DPW's Transportation Plan 2030 also includes plans to revamp the ailing Guam mass transit system by reviewing population impacts, mobility challenges and haul road improvements and congestion. Some of the recommendations include creating a core fixed route system, a bus rapid transit system, and funding to build the bus fleet.

The projection to purchase 50 new vehicles will cost $25 million dollars. It will take 18-24 months to acquire new vehicles. In addition, the type of fuel, fuel costs and consumption still need more research.

DPW is recommending that the government consider the Federal Transit Administration Very Small Starts Program, which is a program designed to promote investments in bus stops for low floor vehicles, traffic signal schemes, and pedestrian improvements associated with transit.

FTA administers federal funding to support a variety of locally planned, constructed, and operated public transportation systems throughout the U.S., including buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, streetcars, monorail, passenger ferry boats, inclined railways, and people movers.

DPW is also requesting for $5 million from the FTA Bus and Bus Facilities program for a new maintenance facility and is hoping to work with FTA to form a public private partnership through joint development regulation.

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