Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Guam Port Writes Off $1.5M Spent on Scrapped Wharf Plan

An abandoned plan to construct an $83 million deep water wharf at the commercial port of Guam wound up costing the United States federal government $1.3 million and the Port Authority of Guam $200,000 in preliminary work, according to a 2009 audit released Monday by the federal government.

While port officials still remain open to the idea of building the wharf, the project became untenable as the port was forced to reevaluate and redirect available funds toward the impending US military buildup on the island.

The port is undergoing a rapid expansion as it prepares for US government’s transfer of all military operations and personnel from Okinawa, Japan to Guam set to start this year. In May 2009, Guam’s Governor Felix Camacho signed an estimated $195 million 2007 Master Plan outlining the PAG’s long-term modernization plans in light of the impending military buildup. The $13 billion relocation of 8,000 US Marines and 9,000 dependents from Okinawa is expected to increase traffic through the Guam port by more than 100 percent, an increase that many fear the current infrastructure at the port will not be able to handle without the modernization efforts.

While the deep water wharf project, first contemplated in 2002 and set to be located near the commercial Guam port, was envisioned to service large vessels like aircraft carriers, the US military now prefers such a wharf to be located in the inner harbor away from the commercial Guam port.

Once the decision to focus on the military buildup was made, the PAG was forced to write off the $200,000 in port revenue already spent on the deep-water wharf project. The $1.3 million in federal funds spent on the project were allocated in 2002 from a $1.5 million grant award from the Economic Development Administration of the US Department of Commerce.

The audit also found that the PAG is currently waiting for nearly $100 million in federal grants and loans required to begin the $200 million in upgrades called for in the commercial port modernization plan.

tags: Port Authority of Guam, Guam