Two projects on Tinian are expected to kick into high gear this April, spearheaded by Navy Seabees as part of their Innovative Readiness Training.
Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds disclosed at a regular board meeting at the Port of Saipan conference room last Tuesday that CPA expects to start this April the Marpo Heights 2 road pavement and the Tinian seaport top side improvements.
The construction work will be handled by the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions, also known as the Navy Seabees, who are now on Tinian. The Tinian municipality paid for the architect and engineering services, while the Seabees are supplying the labor and material for the projects.
In a later interview, King-Hinds said negotiations for the projects were a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Defense, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, CPA, and the Tinian leadership.
King-Hinds informed the board of directors during Tuesday’s meeting that the Seabees are already on the ground on Tinian, having arrived there last Feb. 15, and have started shipping in their equipment to make those improvements.
She said the two projects were part of the divert airfield negotiations and were among the outside-the-fence projects that the CPA board had negotiated with the U.S. Department of Defense. The divert airfield refers to the DOD plan to build an alternative landing airfield on Tinian in case the U.S. Anderson Base in Guam is unavailable due to wars or calamities.
King-Hinds said the road pavement at Marpo Heights 2 project has nothing to do with the airport, but the board had successfully negotiated that as part of the divert airfield lease.
“We are really excited, the community is all excited that we’re [going to] see those projects start beginning April,” King-Hinds said in an interview.
She said they have been talking with the Seabees about the design, the scope, and specifications of the projects. “This is like a multi-year project so we are looking at two-year completion date,” she said.
At the very minimum, King-Hinds said that what the Seabees will do is make infrastructure improvements that will have a lasting impact not just for the economy but for the community, who will benefit from improving the road and improving the docks.
King-Hinds also discussed with the board at the meeting another project for the Tinian Marina Dock, which will tap into divert lease proceeds apportioned to the seaport to make improvements such as a restroom, road pavement and paved parking lots.
She said the intent basically is to draw on some of the divert funds or the divert lease proceeds to make improvements at the Tinian Marina Dock.
King-Hinds said they want to build a restroom there because there is no public facility, and have a parking lot as well as paved entry ways.
“So this area is widely used by the community,” said King-Hinds, adding that the Tinian leadership has asked for help in improving the area, which is made of gravel and is dusty.
She said the proceeds that they will be drawing are from the seaport portion of the divert lease agreement.
King-Hinds said when they signed the $21.9-million, 40-year divert lease agreement with the DOD, there were specific allocation for the Tinian seaport and those are the funds that they will be using to make those improvements.
King-Hinds said she is going to defer action on that item (Tinian Marina Dock) for follow up with the CPA board’s seaport committee.