The Inos administration has found local funds to match federal dollars that will be used to conduct feasibility studies for repair and improvements to the Tinian and Rota harbors.
According to acting governor Ralph DLG Torres on Monday, some $552,000 from the Commonwealth Ports Authority and the administrative accounts of Torres’ office and Gov. Eloy S. Inos’ office have been identified for this purpose.
This local match to federal fiscal years 2015 and 2016 dollars now allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move ahead with the study.
In an interview two weeks ago, Derek Chow, Army Corps chief of the Civil and Public Works Branch, noted how the reported large number of close-outs—hazardous wave conditions that prevent barges from entering the Rota harbor—has called for additional upgrades. He also noted that the Tinian harbor’s breakwater—a sheet pile with rubble around it—is “very deteriorated and provides minimal protection” for vessels.
The harbor feasibility study is a three-year study with a total cost to the CNMI government of about $1 million, Chow said. This amount can be broken up into annual increments.
“We’ve had federal money [for fiscal year 2015] but we haven’t had local money, but as soon as we get their money we’ll be able to get our 2015 and 2016 dollars,” Chow told Saipan Tribune.
In September, the Inos administration signed an agreement with the Army Corps on the feasibility, design, and construction phases of the project. Congressional authorization is needed to get from the feasibility to the construction phases.
According to Chow, the feasibility study refers to the engineering and conceptual design for repairs. This will include cost estimates, economic analysis, environmental studies and analysis, and potential environmental impact statement, he said.
The report will recommend to U.S. Congress whether the repairs and ugrades are worthy of federal investment or not, he added.