Pacific Daily News
Port Prepares for Buildup in Phases
By Brett Kelman • Pacific Daily News • August 3, 2010One of the first federally funded upgrades to begin at the Port Authority of Guam will be the paving of a large, unused area on the facility's north end, which will become a new storage area for shipping containers.
By putting containers in this area, the commercial port will empty its current storage area, which then can be upgraded to handle even more shipments without interrupting the steady stream of cargo, which will grow over the next six years.
When those upgrades are finished, the Port will move on to another project that can be done without hindering day-to-day shipment operations.
This is how upgrades will proceed from 2011 to 2014, said Matthew Smith, a project manager with PB Americas Inc., the Port's modernization consultant.
Smith yesterday said that -- although officials once feared the Port would become a chokepoint that could derail the coming military buildup -- proper planning and sequencing will help Guam's port and population grow in tandem.
The military buildup is expected to increase Guam's population every year between now and 2016, when the boom will peak at 41,193 additional people. More than 14,500 new residents are predicted to arrive by the end of next year.
The Port can begin work on its first phase of upgrades in "mid-to-late 2011" because President Obama signed a law appropriating $50 million to the local agency over the weekend, according to a fact sheet provided at a press conference yesterday.
"The Port couldn't be built up in front of all this (growth), so what we designed is a phasing plan," Smith said during the conference. He added later: "We know we can handle the volume because we put together a flexible system."Confidence
Smith said he had confidence in the Port's ability to upgrade itself and handle the increased flow of shipments because the "cargo forecast" that will guide the upgrades was based on older, higher population projections released by the Department of Defense last year.
Initially, the Defense Department said the buildup would bring about 79,000 people to Guam by 2014, but now it's clear this boom would have overwhelmed Guam's infrastructure, so the entire pace of the buildup has been slowed, cutting population projects by almost half.
And even if upgrades fall behind, the Port and the buildup will be able to adjust, said Enrique J.S. Agustin, the general manager of the Port Authority, because it will have a role on a Civil-Military Coordination Council, Agustin said.
The council will be composed of local and federal government officials who can recommend when the buildup should slow down or speed up, according to the final Environmental Impact Statement.
Last week, Joint Guam Program Office Executive David Bice, a retired Marine major general overseeing the buildup, said the council will be able to pre-empt problems that could arise if buildup projects aren't planned correctly.
Yesterday, Agustin said the Port would foresee any potential chokepoint "long before" it became the problem, which would allow the council to recommend the buildup tempo be adjusted appropriately.
At the press conference yesterday, Lt. Gov. Mike Cruz and Port board Chairman Monty Mesa thanked and congratulated the Port for the hard work needed to earn this federal funding.
The money appropriated over the weekend will allow the Port to access an additional $54.5 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The money from both will fund a slew of projects in the first phase of three decades of upgrades.
"We did not give up," Cruz said. He is campaigning for governor, running with Sen. Jim Espaldon.
Another phase of port upgrades -- Phase 1B -- is expected to begin in 2014, when the first phase ends. No funding source has been found yet for that work."This is not the end of the funding request the port will be going after," Mesa said. "There will be more."
Getting ready: Lt. Gov. Mike Cruz, left, listens as Port Authority of Guam Chairman Monte Mesa shows the Port's plans to upgrade its facilities to prepare for increased activity stemming from the military buildup."
Getting ready: Lt. Gov. Mike Cruz, left, listens as Port Authority of Guam Chairman Monte Mesa shows the Port's plans to upgrade its facilities to prepare for increased activity stemming from the military buildup. (Photo courtesy governor's office)
- The Port Modernization Program as authorized by the Guam Legislature spans decades and is valued at a little more than $260 million.
- Scope: This phase includes reconfiguration and expansion of the cargo terminals, creation of a new gate complex, reconfiguration and expansion of selected buildings, upgraded utilities and security features, and state-of-the-art terminal and gate operating systems.
- Funding: This phase will cost $104.2 million. Most of the funding will come from a $50 million of federal funds and another $54.5 million federal loan.
- Start date: This phase is expected to start in "mid-to-late 2011" and finish in 2014.
- Scope: This phase includes wharf repairs, dredging, cranes, and additional security equipment.
- Funding: No funding source yet, but the port is looking
- Start date: This phase will start when Phase 1-B ends.
- Scope: This program will occur 20 years into the future and focuses on the expansion needed to address the cargo demands of the long-term growth of Guam and its neighboring islands.
- Funding: No funding source yet
- Start date: This phase is decades away.
* See also
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