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Senator suggests using stimulus funds for idea

By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 7, 2009) – The chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications is proposing to establish a regular ferry service between Guam and the Northern Marianas using federal grants.

Sen. Paul Manglona, R-Rota, in a letter to CNMI Congressman Gregorio C. Sablan, said the economies of the two American territories are intertwined and a regular ferry service would further enhance that.

"I would like to propose the idea of establishing a regular ferry service between the island of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Tying our islands’ economies through reliable ocean ferry service would certainly be mutually beneficial to Guam and the CNMI," the senator said.

Rota is near Guam and many residents there frequent the territory to buy food and goods which are relatively cheaper than in Saipan.

Many Saipan residents too regularly travel to Guam for business or leisure activities.

The inter-island ferry commute is viewed as relatively cheaper than taking a plane.

Manglona said the replacement legislation for the Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act set to expire this Sept. 30 could probably be tapped to finance his proposed project.

"It is my understanding that SAFETEA-LU funding and/or stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act could be used for this purpose. Please consider this idea during your deliberations with your colleagues," he told Sablan in a letter dated April 30.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just completed conducting public hearings on Rota’s master plan to identify and justify projects that would be eligible for federal funding.

Manglona said the final draft is expected to be released by August.

Marianas Variety: http://www.mvariety.com/

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