PALAU’S COMPACT ROAD SUFFERS HEAVY DAMAGE

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PALAU’S COMPACT ROAD SUFFERS HEAVY DAMAGE The three-year-old highway cost $149 million

HONOLULU (Pacific Islands Report, ) – A 200-foot section of highway built three years ago in Palau has collapsed after heavy rains, a common problem along the $149 million roadway.

"Compact Road" on Babeldaob collapsed July 30 during several days of torrential rainfall which also caused several mudslides along the road, the Marianas Business Journal reports. The section of the road on the east side of the island south of the Palauan capitol in Melekeok dropped about 12 feet and a detour around the damage was put in place within a few days. A preliminary estimate put the cost to repair the damage at about $500,000, according to the Journal.

The 53-mile roadway was built by South Korea-based Daewoo Engineering and Contracting Company Ltd, under contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It was completed in 2006 after a five-year struggle in virgin jungle and wet weather.

About 40 percent of the road - a condition of its compact agreement with the United States - was built through dense jungle. Environmental issues, archeological features, live ordinance, basic logistics and communications, and a lawsuit all added to the challenges faced.

In 2002, Daewoo filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers claiming "the impossibility of project completion within the allotted period of 1,080 days" and "failure to disclose vital information." The contractor claimed wet weather caused the project to take longer than anticipated.

The texture of the soil in certain areas through which the road passes presents ongoing challenges. The type of soil that occurs in some areas retains moisture and causes landslides in steep-sloping areas during heavy rains, which occur frequently in Palau.

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