A $12 million project to improve the road near the Kingfisher Golf Links area going to Bird Island and the construction of two box culverts broke ground at the Kingfisher Golf Links last Thursday morning, signaling the start of “Phase II” of the project.
Called the Route 36 road improvement project, the Department of Public Works already began work on it last May 24 and will be completed by May 23 next year. The project’s scope of work includes construction and improvement of spans of road near the golf links going to Bird Island and the construction of two large concrete box culverts to greatly improve water drainage to the area.
Present at the ceremony were several members of CNMI leadership, Department of Public Works staff, and staff from contractor RNV Construction. Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider, House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez, Rep. Joel Camacho, and DPW Secretary James A. Ada gave brief remarks before breaking ground.
In his opening remarks, Torres hoped that the improvements to the long, winding portions of Route 36 will be appealing to enthusiasts, tourists and residents alike that enjoy driving on back roads. “This will definitely change the way we market Saipan, not just for tourists but as well as bikers [and other motorists who] can drive around on Sundays and enjoy our islands on the back side,” said Torres.
Palacios said that talks to improve Route 36 have been around since the ‘90s, a time when former governor Juan N. Babauta was still the CNMI’s resident representative in Washington, D.C. Palacios said it took decades of coordinating with various government agencies and refining the required funding for the project before it came to fruition last month. “This groundbreaking ceremony is a testament of over two decades of persistence,” said Palacios.
In an interview with DPW Highway Administrator Lorraine S. Villagomez after the event, she explained why “Phase II” came first. “Phase I will happen, but for now we’re doing Phase II so that we can connect the culvert so that people can pass through to Bird Island,” said Villagomez.
Ruel Villacrusis, who is general manager for contractor RNV Construction, was more than grateful that his company won the contract.