Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Guam Port Clears Hurdle For $50 Million in Upgrade Plans

The US Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration has awarded Hunt Valley, Maryland-based EA Engineering, Science and Technology a contract to manage the Port Authority of Guam's $200 million port modernization project, spurring hope on the island that long-sought after funds for the project will now begin to flow.

The management contract was required to be in place before the US Congress can authorize $50 million in Defense Department funds for the port project.

Previous attempts to raise funds to kick-start the modernization program have not met with much success. In mid-February, the federal government refused to authorize $50 million in national recovery grant funds to the Guam port authority. The loss also cost the port authority $49.1 million in matching funds from the US Department of Agriculture.

However, port officials are upbeat about the $50 million from the Defense Department and are hoping to work with the Obama Administration to secure more funds in the near future.

The modernization plan comes as the Defense Department readies a $15 billion plan to begin moving about 8,000 US Marines and 9,000 of their dependents from Okinawa, Japan to a new base on Guam. Island officials believe that without the upgrades to the commercial port, the military buildup, set to begin later this year and run through 2014, will cause significant disruptions to commercial shipping to the island.

Under the terms of the management contract, EA Engineering, which has a presence on Guam, will be responsible for awarding nearly $157 million worth of contracts related to the $200 million modernization program.

Financial details of the contract with EA Engineering were not released.