More than 100 portions of CNMI streets and roads are still waiting for repairs, some of them long after “government agencies” cut into them or trenched them as part of economic and development projects, the Department of Public Works and House members said yesterday.
DPW said the current road cutting conditions and enforcement challenges pose safety hazards.
Future federal funds are also in jeopardy over the CNMI’s non-compliance with federal rules on the islands’ responsibility to maintain and manage designated routes, the department added.
DPW asked House members yesterday to pass a bill amending Public Law 5-41 to include government agencies among those required to secure road cutting permits from the department.
By a vote of 18-0, the House passed Rep. Larry Deleon Guerrero’s (Ind-Saipan) House Bill 18-116 to help address DPW’s concerns to make CNMI roads safer by requiring entities, including government agencies, to repair roads they have cut into or retrenched, and ensure that the CNMI continues to receive federal highway funds.
“Unfortunately, the biggest violator and biggest cause [of these road issues] are our government agencies,” House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) said at yesterday’s session.
Other House members said the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is one of the leading agencies causing problems to these roads that have yet to be properly restored or repaired.
Sonya Pangelinan Dancoe, an engineer and DPW highway administrator, told House members “it is time” to amend PL 5-41 to help DPW effectively carry out its job of providing a safe, reliable, and efficient transportation system.
“It is the intent that if this [bill] is passed, DPW can effectively ensure compliance with road cutting requirements and policies,” Dancoe told House members.
DPW Secretary Martin Sablan was also in the House chamber to drum up support for HB 18-116’s passage.
Deleon Guerrero, chairman of the House Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications, said in his HB 18-116 that economic development and population growth has partly resulted in streets and roads “being cut into or trenched to lay sewer, water pipes or repair leaks.”
“The impacts are that the portion of the street or road that was excavated or trenched into is not properly restored to its original safe condition. [DPW] has identified more than 100 portions of streets and roads that are not properly restored or have not been repaired,” he said.
He said in many cases, government agencies are responsible for many of the road cutting and trenching without proper restoration.
The bill now goes to the Senate for action.