FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii—The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a feasibility cost-share agreement with CNMI government last March 9 to authorize civil works studies of Beach Road, one of the CNMI’s main public thoroughfare and only coastal highway on Saipan, in order to determine ways to protect it from future floods.
The three-year, $3-million study is 100% federally funded and will be managed by Honolulu District’s civil works branch.
The studies will be funded under Public Law 116-20, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations Disaster Relief Act, 2019, signed into law June 6, 2019.
Honolulu District commander Lt. Col. Kathryn Sanborn and Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed the agreement on Saipan.
“This study provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help address the risks of coastal flooding in a critical area on the island of Saipan,” said Mike Wyatt, Honolulu District’s Chief, Civil & Public Works branch. “Roads, residences and businesses are all affected by major storm events, and our goal is to fully evaluate options to protect this area for the future.”
The shoreline in the project area is in close proximity to the seaward traffic lane of Beach Road. During Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018, elevated water levels allowed large waves to propagate across Saipan Lagoon across the road, resulting in prolonged road closure for debris removal and road repair, flood inundation damage to surrounding businesses and private properties, and undermining of a pedestrian path.
The Army Corps study will identify coastal flood hazards and potential mitigation measures for critical areas within a two-mile stretch of shoreline from the 13 Fishermen’s Memorial to the Chalan Monsignor Guerrero Road (the road going up the Northern Marianas College).
The analysis will also formulate potential alternative plans that provide Coastal Storm Damage Reduction benefits and document the results in a decision document that will serve as the basis for project construction authorization. The Army Corps civil works team started initial analysis for the Saipan Beach Road study in early March.