Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds said yesterday that the recent U.S. Department of Transportation’s award of $478 million in airport infrastructure grants to 232 airports in 43 states, including the CNMI, will be used to improve fence lines at the airport on Rota and, potentially, on Tinian.
King-Hinds said that CPA has been very good about tracking and applying for federal grant opportunities for airport improvement projects. She credits CPA executive assistant/project manager Wendi L. Prater with being diligent about staying abreast of these opportunities and systematically working on submitting timely applications, which have proven to be beneficial to CPA.
As to how much the CNMI will get out of the $474 million, King-Hinds said they are still waiting for confirmation on list of approved projects.
Typhoon Mangkhut in 2018 reportedly damaged approximately 80% of the fence line at the Benjamin Taisacan International Airport on Rota.
CPA believes the entire perimeter fence would need to be replaced in order for the airport to be compliant with regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration.
CPA expects the fencing project to take two years to complete, at an estimated cost of $4 million.
As for the Tinian International Airport, CPA said the FAA has approved expediting the perimeter fence replacement project due to damage sustained from Super Typhoon Yutu in October.
The project entails replacing the entire perimeter fence except where the U.S. Department of Defense will be building its divert airfield.
CPA expects the fence replacement to take 15 months to complete, at an estimated cost of $2 million.
DOT said the $474 million is the fourth allotment of the total $3.18 billion in FAA’s Airport Improvement Program funding for airports across the U.S.
According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, infrastructure projects funded by these grants will advance safety, improve travel, generate jobs and provide other economic benefits for local communities.