The Commonwealth Ports Authority installed three new loading bridges last Dec. 28, just in time for the estimated start of the travel bubble with South Korea on Jan. 8.
The loading bridge, which is commonly called passenger boarding bridge, is an enclosed, elevated passageway that extends from an airport terminal gate to an airplane. The ones responsible for installing the bridges are CPA’s contractor, AIC Marianas Inc., and a subcontractor.
CPA chair Kimberlyn King- Hinds stated that the loading bridges have been here for a couple of months and the installation was delayed due to COVID-19’s impact on travel and scheduling.
The CNMI is expected to receive three more loading bridges, for a total of six new equipment. The first loading bridges are funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, while the last three are funded by COA’s insurance proceeds.
According to King-Hinds, CPA has insurance coverage for natural disasters. In this case, CPA’s insurance proceeds helped cover the repair or replacements of the damage caused by Super Typhoon Yutu last October 2018.
The last three to be installed is still under discussion and the project will go out for bid in late January or February.
Most of CPA’s projects that they have been pushing to expedite are either insurance proceeds-funded or federally funded.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, CPA engaged the contract for the loading bridges project last January 2019 with the construction firm, AIC Marianas. The project was designed in 2017, was advertised in 2018, and was scheduled for the award prior to Super Typhoon Yutu. Because of the typhoon, though, the contract was not executed until January 2019.
The project was to be performed in two phases due to the intricacies of working on the aircraft parking apron and to ensure that flight operations are not hampered. The first phase of the project consisted of the contractor mobilizing, staging, and fabricating the three bridges, which were manufactured by JBT in Utah.
The second phase of the project consisted of the demolition of the three originally contracted bridges. However, due to Super Typhoon Yutu and safety concerns stemming from the damaged bridges, CPA submitted a change order to the FAA to allow the contractor to demolish all six bridges.