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By Aldwin R. Fajardo

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 28, 2000 – Saipan Tribune)---More than 15 local and off-island construction companies have so far expressed interest in undertaking the West Tinian International Airport improvement project, construction that has been delayed for years due to financial constraints.

Commonwealth Ports Authority officials will be flying to Tinian Friday to discuss issues involving the project’s scope, deadline for the submission of proposals, construction phasing, contract duration and contract award.

CPA will be soliciting two separate invitations for the project; one will encompass the construction of a 7,800 linear-foot asphalt concrete runway (basic bid) and the other will be for an 8,600 linear-foot runway (alternative bid), according to Commonwealth Ports Authority (CPA) Board Chair Roman S. Palacios.

Mr. Palacios said bids will initially be evaluated to determine if the proposed project cost for the alternative bid is within the available funds earmarked for the West Tinian International Airport improvement project.

If all alternative bids submitted exceed the total funding available, CPA will then reject all submissions and evaluate the proposals for the basic bid.

The ports authority has so far made $17 million in total funds available for the West Tinian International Airport improvement project, almost half of which were provided from Federal Aviation Administration grants.

In July 1999, FAA pitched in an additional $3.512 million for the West Tinian International Airport improvement project, which marked its fourth grant for the undertaking since September 1998.

The July 1999 grant brought to $9.387 million the total funds allocated by the FAA for the construction of new runway and other airport improvements.

In addition to the FAA grant, the Commonwealth government has allocated $3.4 million in capital infrastructure project funds for the Tinian facility under Public Law 11-79, which was signed into law during June 1999.

The total project cost has been estimated to total at least $20 million.

The winning bidder will be subjected to a comprehensive review by a panel of experts from the ports authority before a contract is awarded to ensure that the chosen company is responsive and responsible.

Qualifications for the review include: (a) previous project experience, 40 percent; (b) financial capabilities, 25 percent; (c) quality of equipment and personnel, 25 percent; and (d) bonding and insurance, 10 percent.

The basic bid includes construction of a new 7,600-foot runway, two 600 linear-foot taxiways, one 200 linear-foot partial taxiway; and the conversion of the existing 6,000 linear-foot runway to a parallel taxiway.

It also includes the construction of a 2,296 linear-foot parallel taxiway connecting to Runway 26 and rerouting 4,400 linear-feet of 8th Avenue, which will form part of the proposed 7,600 linear-foot runway.

The new runway will be constructed parallel north of the existing runway, which will be transformed into a taxiway.

The construction of a new runway is part of the original West Tinian International Airport rehabilitation plan. CPA previously changed the plan by proposing to instead extend the existing runway, which FAA opposed.

The 8,600 linear-foot runway is part of the second or alternative bid.

Also included in the basic and alternative bids are all drainage, guidance signage, taxiway and runway edge lighting, a rotating beacon, a beacon tower, approach and identifier lights, and other roadway works.

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

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