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Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: DoD awards $586K for Tinian Harbor Modification Study

Posted on May 4, 2017

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is set to officially continue the Tinian Harbor Modification Study, through a grant from the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment.

The Tinian Harbor will undergo a series of environmental, economic, and structural analyses by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine the best possible options to improve harbor navigation. The harbor is fragile and desperately needs to be stabilized, repaired, and modified. Improvements to the harbor will reduce risks and impacts to public and private stakeholders and its surrounding coral reefs and sea life.

According to the $586,000 grant, the Department of Defense environmental planning documents identified requirements for the Tinian Harbor to achieve installation sustainment and to accommodate military service training needs. The risk of these requirements not being met, as well as use of the harbor for other private or commercial purposes, is largely due to the current state of the breakwater, which prompted immediate action to continue the study.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres noted that the grant award could not have come at a better time as the CNMI’s economy continues to improve.

“This grant award is an important step toward revitalizing the Tinian Harbor and providing more economic opportunities for the people of Tinian. It is my hope that the study will validate and lock in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ direct participation and long term commitment in the development of navigation improvements at Tinian Harbor, similar to the Rota West Harbor,” Torres said.

Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog, chairman of the Luta and Tinian Harbor Task Force, explains that the Tinian Harbor study is historic in several aspects.

“For the first time in the harbor’s history, the study will produce an Integrated Feasibility Report/Environmental Impact Statement that identifies and formulates potential alternatives to improve navigation conditions for public and private stakeholders at Tinian Harbor, which is based on the most comprehensive stakeholder input the Commonwealth has ever undertaken over the course of 12 months,” Hocog added.

Tinian Mayor Joey P. San Nicolas explained through recent briefings that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu Engineer District, will be responsible for producing the Tinian Harbor Modification Study in accordance with the 2015 Project Management Plan Agreement.

“The people of Tinian and Aguiguan are truly grateful that we are moving forward with this study. It is one large step forward, which is required prior to the construction phase,” San Nicolas said.

According to Tinian and Aguiguan Sen. Jude U. Hofschneider, the Tinian Breakwater was constructed in 1944-1945 by the U.S. Navy Seabees and serviced a vital World War II airfield. The breakwater provided wave protection for a dredged harbor, primarily used by liberty ships and C-3 type cargo vessels during World War II.

“The future of Tinian’s economic livelihood depends on the successful completion of the harbor and its associated mitigating activities. It is my hope that we take our time to do it right and this feasibility study will assist all stakeholders in the process,” Hofschneider said.

The grant was co-authored by the Office of the Governor and the CNMI Civil Military Liaison Office in partnership with the CNMI Office of Grants Management and State Clearinghouse. According to OGM Administrator Epi Cabrera, “The receipt of the grant award will initiate the routing of financial documents needed to formally continue the study.”

“These long-awaited funds will allow USACE to continue and complete the feasibility study within their statutory allowed timeframe. The OGM-SC is pleased with the outcome of the grant submission, and we thank OEA and the Harbor Task Force for being so patient and responsive to our financial and improvement needs,” Cabrera added.

Source: saipantribune.comNorthern Mariana Islands

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