Senators consider Port Modernization Plan - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Senators consider Port Modernization Plan

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The first of several information briefings under the Committee on Transportation was held last night and first on the chopping block was the Port Authority of Guam. And what was learned was that despite plans to move forward with the project and years behind its belt, no actual construction has actually started.

Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz said, "To date, has anything happened? Besides you and MARAD trying to figure out who's on top?, with Parsons Brinckerhoff representative Matthew Smith replying, "To date, there has been no construction started at the Port."

Lawmakers wanted to know what the hold up was since the Port's consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff has been paid nearly $16 million but not a single shovel of dirt has been turned for any of the port's modernization plan. Smith told lawmakers the delay has come from disagreements between the Maritime Administration and the Port Authority over the modernization's scope of work.

Port board chair Dan Tydingco said, "We hope to get some clarity in regards to which the department of defense inspector general or MARAD or any other entity within the federal government wants to go with in respect to this $50 million. We've made the request officially and the coordination is underway now between the congresswoman's office and other stakeholders locally here to try and set up with the need for face-to-face to get some clarity here."

MARAD wanted the bulk of the money to be spent on repairing and replacing three wharves at the Port while the board and management want to prioritize yard expansion and technology upgrades with a more balanced approach that has been endorsed by the Port Users Group, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, the governor and the Legislature.  The delay in the military buildup and the volume of cargo that was anticipated coupled with a lack of funding has forced the agency to scale back its projects.

Said Smith, "As the master plan developed and more detailed site investigations of specific utilities, specific facilities and other unforeseen conditions were uncovered, the costs for certain items increased above others forcing the Port to prioritize based on available funding."

Lawmakers are scheduled to get another progress report in the next 30 days.

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