Feds on island discussing haul roads
by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
A delegation of federal officials are on island working on the massive plan to overhaul Guam's roads in preparation for the military buildup. The amount of money it's going to take to get Guam's transportation infrastructure on the road to recovery is taking some very drastic twists and turns.
DPW Director Larry Perez says that his agency continues to meet weekly with federal officials about beefing up the haul road system in preparation for Guam's military buildup. This week key federal officials from organizations like the Joint Guam Program Office, Naval Facilities, Defense Access Roads, and the Federal Highway Administration are on Guam meeting with DPW engineers and their consultants from Parsons Brinkerhoff to discuss the improvement to Guam's roads, better known as haul roads, that are needed to handle the military buildup.
DPW director Larry Perez said the feds are out here to basically see if they agree with Guam's estimates. Originally the Governor's Office pegged these costs at $945 million then estimates were increased several times until they reached an estimate of roughly $4.5 billion, a figure produced with help from Parsons Brinckerhoff, Parsons Transportation Group, the Federal Highway Administration, the University of Phoenix, Arizona, central federal lands and others. Today Perez says that $4.5 billion figure has been cut in half.
"A lot of assumptions were clarified with these key officials and now we have a tally of roughly just under $2 billion that we're working on," Perez said. He says this drastic decrease is due to the fact that they now have a better understanding of the specifics of the haul roads projects after having met with more federal officials. This, despite the fact, that back in May, Perez returned from a trip to Washington DC with this to say.
"Bottom line at the end of the day it was not disputed the $4.5 billion is a requirement that was done by experts in the field," he stated. As KUAM has reported DoD was originally planning on building a brand new defense access road to run from the Naval base in the southern end of the island to Andersen Air Force Base in the northern end of the island at a cost of about $1 billion.
This idea was then changed to instead beef up existing roads because a brand new one would take too long to construct due to the environmental impact studies required by federal law.
Now the plan is to beef up an existing road that connects the Port Authority to NCTAMs which is currently the preferred but not necessarily the only potential site for basing the 8,000 Marines from Okinawa who will be transferred to Guam. The projected route to transfer constructions materials and other supplies will run from the Port Authority Road onto Rt. 1 or Marine Corps Drive then from Marine Corps Drive on to Rt. 8 or the road that passes through Mongmong Toto Maite alongside Tiyan past the tri-intersection in Barrigada to Rt. 16 or the road that passes by the Barrigada Post Office and down the overpass where it connects back to Marine Corps Drive and then on to NCTAMs road.
This was to be completed through a sort of step by step process in which federal funding would be given year by year beginning with $50 million for 2010. That figure too has changed. Perez said, "Right now they've identified something to the tune of $41 million that they can give up front they've given us half a million already for some NEPA studies."
With the figures constantly changing and no decision yet on what federal entity or combination of entities will fund the haul road buildup the only thing clear is that the feds will pay something.
"Bottom line, it's a federal statement the federal government is going to pay for these things and the local funds that we have will be earmarked for other areas that have been neglected for decades past," he said.
Once done with inspections they will submit their figures for a projected operations administration and maintenance budget for the years 2010 through 2014.