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By Edith G. Alejandro Staff Reporter

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (December 28, 2001 – Saipan Tribune)---The United States Army Engineering District has formally announced plans to assist the Commonwealth Ports Authority in repairing and improving Tinian’s and Rota’s seaport facilities.

A General Investigation Report released by the U.S. Army Engineering District, following a study completed last October, disclosed that the feasibility phase is scheduled to start during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2002.

The feasibility study is expected to be completed during the second quarter of financial year 2006.

USAED Commander Ronald N. Light said the feasibility study cost for Tinian Harbor will amount to $1.2 million, while the Rota Harbor cost will be $1.4 million.

Light explained that the estimated expenses will be shared equally between the federal government and the ports authority, as agreed to under the Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement.

"However, the CNMI's cost sharing requirements are reduced by a $200,000 waiver of costs, as provided by Section 1156 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986," Light added.

CPA Executive Director Carlos H. Salas said the study disclosed the need for further assessment of Tinian and Rota harbors.

Salas said the project will kick off during a scheduled visit by US Army Corps of Engineers officials to Saipan next month.

"The local economy will have an opportunity to flourish, as the islands will have fully functional harbors to support future development plans," Salas said.

Based on the Navigational Improvements Analysis released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the feasibility study will be consist of project management, navigational and coastal design, structural design, geo-technical study, environmental study, cultural resource study, economic study, cost analysis, real estate, value engineering study and financial management.

Further, the report determined the need for the federal government to participate in general navigational improvements for the purpose of enhancing the economic development of the two islands.

According to the US Army Corps' study, the existing Tinian Harbor inner steel sheet pile breakwater is almost completely deteriorated.

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

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