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By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (Sept. 23, 1999 – Saipan Tribune)---The U.S. Navy turns over to the CNMI government today more than 5.2-million square meters of land on Tinian which will be used for expansion of the island’s airport.

A brief turnover ceremony will be held on Tinian in the presence of Lt. Gov. Jesus R. Sablan and Commonwealth Ports Authority officials.

The Division of Public Lands earlier approved a conditional conveyance of certain U.S. military lands to the ports authority for the expansion of West Tinian Airport.

Under the turnover agreement, CPA will allow the U.S. military to use the airport and give it landing rights.

CPA is finalizing the bid documents for Tinian's new runway project. An invitation to bid will be published in December.

The new runway will measure about 7,800 linear feet long. The project includes crossover taxiways and the relocation of 8th Avenue.

The project will receive a grant of $9.3 million from the Federal Aviation Administration. This will bring to $12.8 million the total amount of money available for the project.

CPA Executive Director Carlos H. Salas said additional funding might be available soon.

Construction of the airport is expected to be completed in about 24 months.

The 7,800 linear foot length of the runway will allow some wide-bodied aircraft to use Tinian airport, but not the B-747.

Originally, the plan was to build an 8,600 linear foot runway, but the length was reduced to cut down costs.

The Tinian Legislative Delegation has emphasized that further development of the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino depends on the capability of the existing West Tinian Airport to accommodate bigger aircraft and bring in substantial number of visitors through direct flights to the island.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune

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