After all the delays, the Commonwealth Ports Authority board yesterday approved the drafting of a request for proposal in preparation for the construction of a new runway in the airport of the island-municipality of Tinian.
CPA Executive Director Carlos H. Salas said some $8 million is now available to begin work on the $20 million project. Of the $8 million fund, $4.6 million came from the Federal Aviation Administration while some $3.4 million from the Capital Improvement Projects.
Salas said local officials on Tinian have pledged to help raise the remaining $12 million to complete the project. “We are also hoping that FAA will be able to give us additional funding while the project is going on,” he said.
The drafting of an RFP will be made after FAA gave its go signal for the construction of a new runway, which will be expanded to 7,600 ft. The original plan was to build an 8,600-foot runway, but it was reduced to cut down on cost. CPA said the length is still enough to accommodate a B727 aircraft on Tinian.
“If within that period, CPA had more money, then we can carry out the additional 1,000 ft for the runway,” said Salas.
Construction of a new airport, which will be relocated on 8th Avenue, would be carried out in three phases and is expected to be finished in three years.
FAA had earlier rejected the proposal of Tinian Legislative Delegation to extend the existing runway instead of developing a new one because it would encroach on Broadway Avenue and would not meet the 1,000 ft. safety area requirement.
The aviation agency also cited the “line of sight” problem which makes it difficult for pilots to have a clear sight of the Tinian runway on both ends.
The Tinian Delegation earlier issued a resolution seeking an amendment to the FAA-approved plan because the local leaders believed that by extending the existing runway, the airport would be able to immediately accommodate larger aircraft directly to and from various destinations.
However, since the Tinian Delegation’s proposal is not included in the original master plan for Tinian airport, the ports authority would be required to make an expensive environmental impact study that could take a year.
Considering all these constraints, FAA advised the ports authority to stick to the original plan and reduce the runway to 7,600 ft. “Carrying out the original plan is more viable and an extension would be made if the traffic improves,” said Salas.
Due to the urgency of improving the existing runway, the Tinian Delegation had approved the transfer of over $3 million from the Covenant 702 Capital Improvement Project funds originally allotted for the Tinian Civic Center.
The Tinian Delegation had emphasized that development of Tinian Dynasty and Casino hinges on the capability of the existing West Tinian Airport to accommodate bigger aircraft and bring in the needed number of visitors through direct flights to the island.