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By Gina Tabonares

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Aug. 31) - The U.S. Department of Transportation is urging the government of Guam to fix damaged roads that were constructed using federal funds.

In a letter to Public Works Director Larry Perez, the department’s Federal Highway Administration expressed concern over the lack of maintenance of federally funded road projects.

The FHwA specifically mentioned the damage on Route 1, the Marine Corps Drive southbound lane near Piti Bomb Preserve, and Route 1’s northbound left lane near the Alupang Beach Club, which, according to federal officials, can be dangerous, especially when it is raining.

"Marine Corps Drive is a moderate to high speed facility with a lot of truck traffic. These depressions take up an entire lane and cannot be avoided unless the cars change lanes or ride on the shoulder," the FHwA said.

It gave GovGuam 90 days to fix these roads. Otherwise, the federal government will withhold approval of funding for other Guam projects.

The FHwA required Perez to provide photos within 90 days as proof that the roads have been repaired.

Last March, DPW chief engineer Marc Gagarin warned that federal funding could be cut if the island’s roads were not maintained properly.

"The federal funding is predicated on the government of Guam repairing and maintaining the roadways and other infrastructure funded by the federal government. If the feds see that our roads are not being maintained properly, then they will take action," Gagarin told Variety last March.

According to Gagarin, the federal government requires GovGuam to come up with a Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, or STIP, for fiscal years 2005-2007.

This plan will list the various types of projects that will be undertaken over the next three years.

Gagarin said only projects included in the plan are eligible for funds from the FHwA.

DPW and Guam Waterworks Authority have already been meeting to draw up a "master list" of all roads with potholes and their repair.

GWA, however, is reluctant to repair potholes because of its own financial problems. Moreover, GovGuam still owes money to GWA.

Perez has requested the Attorney General’s Office to ask GWA to repair these roads or provide funds for their repair.

But Attorney General Douglas Moylan said Perez should not place all the blame on GWA.

The AG wants the DPW director to identify the names of the department officials responsible for maintaining the roads.

The AG also expressed disappointment with DPW’s lack of records regarding road damage.

September 1, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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