Motorists driving through the cross island road in San Vicente and Dandan can now do so safely with the activation of its traffic signals on Friday.
A ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday marked the completion of the San Vicente/Dandan junction traffic signal project, a component of Phase 1 of the Cross Island Road & Drainage Improvement by the Department of Public Works and funded by the Federal Highway Administration.
Hawaiian Rock Products served as the contractor for Phase 1 of the project. Hofschneider Engineering, LLC did construction management while Henry K. Pangelinan & Associates, Inc. did the architectural and engineering design.
Phase I, which begins near the San Vicente-Dandan intersection and ends at the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. Super Blue Tank in Papago, had a price tag of $7.4 million.
Yesterday’s ceremony, attended by government officials and contractor representatives, was held outside the DPW office in the area and was led by acting governor Eloy S. Inos and DPW Secretary Martin C. Sablan, who also celebrated his 58th birthday yesterday.
Fr. Rey D. Rosal, San Vicente parish priest, did the invocation.
“This project is one of the many projects that this administration has completed for the purpose of enhancing economic development and providing easier access to residents and businesses alike, especially for those in San Vicente all the way to Kagman,” said Inos.
He noted that the project, which began in 2005 with the awarding of the architectural and engineering design, ran into “unforeseen problems” such as the rainy season and delayed shipment of materials, inconveniencing residents and motorists alike.
“We had inconveniences but we see that in the end, what we have is an improved infrastructure that will allow for safe and easy access to residents and businesses alike,” said Inos. “That’s a major accomplishment and this administration continues to do that in many areas such as power, water, and sewer.”
One of the project’s snags, Inos said, was knocking down the roundhouse at the junction, which had “a lot of sentimental value” associated with it.
House Speaker Eli Cabrera (R-Saipan), who was at yesterday’s ceremony, said he was among those who initially opposed the demolition of the roundhouse as his grandfather had helped build it.
Cabrera said that people’s safety, and not the inconvenience that the road project caused, is “a more important issue” and that the project “will benefit the Commonwealth as a whole.”
This was echoed by DPW Secretary Sablan: “There’s a lot of things that were an inconvenience for the residents of San Vicente. However, when you weigh the safety factor and the inconvenience, I think we need to proceed with the improvement on our highway.”
Sablan, in an interview after the ceremony, said another major challenge for the project was finding unrecorded CUC water lines.
Working with CUC and other government agencies, including private entities such as IT&E, expedited the project’s completion. “This is something that we need to be pleased about because we’re trying to improve our infrastructure on island,” added Sablan.
Highway administrator Sonya Pangelinan-Dancoe, for her part, said that DPW is “relieved” to finally open the traffic lights as the area is “critical,” given that schools and churches are located nearby.
“It was our goal and our priority to make sure that this section is prioritized and it’s opened as soon as possible,” she told Saipan Tribune.
Up next is the completion of the Phase 2A component of the project, which starts from the Super Blue tank to the Kagman intersection by the Mobil gas station.
“We look forward to completing that. We have been moving pretty quickly,” Pangelinan-Dancoe said.
GPPC is the contractor for Phase 2A; it is expected to be completed in another three to four months.
Pangelinan-Dancoe also disclosed that the construction of Phase 2B—which starts from the Kagman intersection to Capital Hill—is expected to begin in January or February 2012.
“There’s going to be multiple things going on in this stretch of road but we feel that this is vital for the economy,” she added.