Plans in place to repair Beach Road, Chalan Kalabera, and Airport Road
After months of planning, road construction will start this year to repair Beach Road, Chalan Kalabera in Talofofo, and Tun Herman Pan Road (Airport Road) in lower Dandan.
On Beach Road (Route 33), construction will start this year on the 2.06 miles between As Perdido Road in Chalan Piao to the Atkins Kroll intersection in Oleai. The improvements include the reconstruction of existing roadway to upgrade the pavement. This encompasses asphalt concrete pavement with dense anti-skid including pavement markings, road shoulders, drainage systems, driveway connections, and traffic signage. The most notable features include sidewalks and bike lanes for pedestrians and cyclists between Chalan Piao and Oleai, especially within the commercial area of Chalan Kanoa and Susupe.
For Chalan Kalabera, also known as Windward Road (Route 36), the project involves approximately a mile of all-weather road between the Kingfisher Golf Course and the Bird Island Lookout on the northeastern coast of Saipan. The improvements include 12- and 11-foot-wide travel lanes, 4.5 feet wide shoulders/bike lanes on each side, roadside and road drainage crossings, permanent traffic markers and signs, roadside safety appurtenances, traffic signs and two bridges at the Unai Fanhang and Unai Nanasu crossings that will connect the San Juan Road to Talofofo Road.
At Tun Herman Pan Road, also known as Airport Road (Route 35), the project extends from the intersection of Chalan Monsignor Guerrero (Route 31) to the intersection of Flame Tree Road (Route 304). The project involves reconstruction of existing roadway and upgrade pavement structures that include roadway excavation, backfilling subbase and base courses, asphalt concrete pavement with dense anti-skid including pavement markings, traffic signage, guardrail, and drainage structure.
According to an Office of the Governor statement yesterday, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios assembled a working group of key government personnel called Highway Task Force to push federal highway projects to repair roads and better serve residents’ transportation needs and accessibility.
Led by Palacios, the Highway Task Force—composed of civil engineers, planners, and administrators from the Department of Public Works and the Capital Improvement Program Office—have streamlined plans and funding through the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Office of Insular Affairs, Economic Development Administration, and the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Relief.
The need to align both projects and funding sources has been a critical component to this overall effort, ensuring that all federal partners are able to understand the needs of the CNMI as much as those who are doing the “boots on the ground” work.
“Since the administration took office in 2019, Governor Torres and I were well aware of the concerns made by members of our community regarding the state of our roads. The last two years have been focused so much on typhoon recovery and the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the process, we have been meeting with key federal and local agencies to fix our roads by bringing together…experts familiar with our predicament and gaining the necessary assurances to build stronger, smarter, and better, especially Beach Road,” said Palacios.
“Our people deserve a safe and smooth commute to and from work or to visit family and friends that stay on opposite ends of the island. This requires roads with no potholes, updated signs, and lighting to promote safety in our community. Through the hard work of all the individuals involved, we are now able to really rebuild our islands by upgrading our roads for the future,” added Palacios.
So far, the Torres-Palacios administration has been able to secure $40.5 million in federal funding for federal highway projects in the CNMI. The projected timeline for completion of the various projects is expected within 12-24 months upon issuance of a notice to proceed.
“These highway projects did take time because there is so much involved, which include engineering design, funding and federal and local permitting process. The permitting entail the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Historic Preservation Act, [and] Clean Water Act. We cannot and will not violate federal laws. However, DPW, along with Gov. Torres, Lt. Gov. Palacios and the Highway Task Force, all the hard work will be realized very soon. I ask the community for their patience and understanding once the construction commences,” said Public Works Secretary James A. Ada.
DPW Director of Technical Services Division Anthony A. Camacho acknowledged that the construction work on Beach Road and Airport Road will cause traffic back up. “However, once it is complete, our roads would be much safer for all residents and visitors,” he said
As for the Chalan Kalabera, once it is completed, residents will be able to use this road to get to Bird Island and not have to drive to Marpi, he added.
“With the federal funds that have been secured, we now can proceed with the needed highway improvements. DPW, Gov. Torres, Lt. Gov. Palacios and the Highway Task Force have been proactive, and we look forward to the construction phase,” said DPW Highway administrator Lorraine S. Villagomez.
“Roads connect people and ideas, and new infrastructure welcomes new opportunities for jobs for our people,” said Torres. “These planned projects, led by Lt. Gov. Palacios, are both exciting and beneficial for our community as a whole. Our goal is to make it safer and easier to drive and commute. We look forward to getting these projects off the ground this year, and we especially want to recognize the hard work of DPW and CIP on the Highway Task Force.” (PR)