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By Aldwin R. Fajardo

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 3, 2000 – Saipan Tribune)---Six companies have officially submitted proposals to construct improvements to West Tinian International Airport.

Telesource Corporation tendered the lowest amount at a maximum of $16.9 million for an 8,600-foot runway.

Telesource also proposed construction of a 7,800-foot runway at the airport, which is part of the basic bid, at $15.7 million. That is lower by just about $500,000 than the second lowest bidder, Guandong Overseas Corporation.

Guandong Overseas offered to undertake the 7,800-foot runway project at $16.2 million, while the company submitted a bid of $18.4 million for the alternative bid that involves the construction of a longer runway.

Nippon Hodo submitted $18.8 million and $19.4 million for basic and alternative bids respectively; Black Micro Corporation offered $18.9 and $20.7 million; MAEDA proposed $20 million and $22 million; while G/E submitted $26 million and $28 million for the Tinian airport project.

Ranking officials of the Commonwealth Ports Authority, headed by Board Chair Roman S. Palacios and Executive Director Carlos H. Salas, witnessed the bid opening, which was attended by representatives from five of the six official bidders.

While Telesource was the apparent low bidder, Project Manager Paul Baron pointed out that the bid totals represent only the hard costs and may not necessarily indicate which proposal will be selected.

At the same time, Mr. Salas said CPA is mandated to negotiate with the lowest responsible bidder, adding that the ports authority has about 120 days to discuss and choose which of the bidders will get the contract for the Tinian airport project.

Tinian Board Member Ray Cing, who worked hard to get the island's airport expansion project going through constant lobbying, expressed confidence the island's economy will pick up soon after the new runway is completed.

CPA solicited two separate invitations for the project; one encompassed the construction of a 7,800 linear-foot asphalt concrete runway and the other was for an 8,600 linear-foot runway, according to Mr. Palacios.

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 sourced out of the Federal Aviation Administration grants.

FAA has provided about $9.4 million in financing for the West Tinian International Airport expansion project, while the balance has been pledged by members of the Tinian Legislative Delegation through the island's Capital Improvement Project funds.

Under the basic bid, the $17-million project would be for the 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 will also include 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, which the ports authority will solicit from companies interested in undertaking the West Tinian International Airport project.

Also included in the basic and alternative bids are all drainage, guidance signage, taxiway and runway edge lighting, rotating beacon, 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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