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By Dionesis Tamondong

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Aug 1) – A federal bill that would bring about $13 million to Guam for major construction projects, stimulate new jobs and help small businesses is expected to be signed soon by the president, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo said in a written statement.

Congress this weekend approved the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act, which authorizes $286.4 billion in spending for federal highway projects over six years, and renews all federal highway, public transit, safety, and research programs until fiscal 2009.

For Guam, the measure includes an increase in funding for the Territorial Highway Program by nearly 30 percent, and for other projects that Bordallo had requested for Guam.

The U.S. Senate late Friday approved the measure, which now goes to President Bush. He is expected to sign the bill into law this week, according to Bordallo's statement.

Some of the projects include the reconstruction of three bridges over the Hagåtña River and the construction of a new wharf at Cabras.

The measure also provides funds for the Guam Mass Transit Authority to purchase buses and vans that accommodate people with disabilities.

"The significant increases in funding Guam will receive for road projects from the Federal highway bill mean more jobs for the island," Bordallo said.

"New bridges for Hagåtña, a new intermodal facility at the wharf on Cabras Island, as well as the money for the Guam Mass Transit Authority to buy new vehicles will give Guam a stronger transportation system."

Bordallo also pushed for a provision in the bill to assist small businesses on Guam, by classifying the entire island as a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone).

The program, administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, provides federal contracting preferences to eligible small businesses to allow them to tap into the nearly $300 billion federal marketplace.

Previous to this, a technicality in law had prevented many small businesses in the territories from qualifying as HUBZones, Bordallo said. "The creation of a HUBZone for the entire island of Guam will be a boon to small businesses and boost our economy. It will provide access for Guam small businesses to federal contracting dollars that can be used for commercial growth and economic development," Bordallo said.

Guam also is slated to receive roughly 40 percent of the $36.4 million earmarked for the Territorial Highway Program, or $14.5 million out of the $36.4 million fund this year.

In 2006, the amount Guam receives will rise to $16 million, then peak from 2007 through 2009 at $20 million annually, Bordallo's statement said.

Monday, August 1, 2005

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