Issues involving the alleged faulty design and management of the West Tinian Airport project are expected to end soon following disclosure that its contractor has offered to settle with the Commonwealth Ports Authority.
Acting CPA board chair Manny Villagomez confirmed with Saipan Tribune the proposed settlement agreement, saying negotiations are ongoing. No amount has been finalized yet.
The ports authority filed in February 2012 a $1-million lawsuit against Texas-based firm Leo A. Daly Co. for breach of contract, professional malpractice, negligence, fraud, and violations of the Consumer Protection Act and the CNMI Building Safety Code pertaining to the construction of the new departure terminal for the Tinian airport.
Leo A. Daly got the CPA contract in 2003 for $399,000. The company designed the renovation work for the West Tinian Airport and provided construction management services during the construction phase of the project. It completed its services in December 2008.
Taniguchi Ruth Makio Architects, which performed other services for the West Tinian Airport, discovered that Leo A. Daly’s design and construction did not comply with American with Disabilities Act requirements, including the restrooms. Specifically, the restroom doors and stalls are too narrow to allow for ADA compliance and the sinks do not allow wheelchair access as required by the ADA. The new terminal was also deemed non-compliant with typhoon or earthquake protection standards. The structural deficiencies, it was learned, require major structural reengineering and retrofitting.
Following the discovery of these deficiencies, the facility was not allowed to open due to safety concerns.
Villagomez said yesterday that CPA is optimistic about its ongoing negotiations with Leo A. Daly. CPA executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero is scheduled to meet with lawyers of the Texas company in March this year in Iowa.
Deleon Guerrero was not available for comments when contacted yesterday.
Tinian Airport manager Joseph Mendiola welcomed the settlement news, saying this will help CPA move forward with the long-delayed project. The new departure terminal has yet to be opened for public use since being built some five years ago.
All inbound and outbound passengers of Tinian continue to use the old and cramped terminal, which Mendiola said sometimes accommodates more than 200 passengers.
Mendiola said the defective departure terminal is also delaying the planned renovation of the existing terminal.
The CNMI government also sued Leo A. Daly in 2009 due to the defective design of the Commonwealth Health Center’s dialysis center. The parties reached a $2-million settlement in 2010.