Tuesday, July 6, 2010

US House Passes $50M for Guam Port Upgrades

The United States House of Representatives has approved $50 million in federal funding to kick off a major upgrade program for the commercial port on the island of Guam.

The funding was contained within an amended H.R. 4899, the $45 billion 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act, and now moves to the U.S. Senate for a final vote. If approved by the Senate, the bill would head to the White House for the President's signature.

An original version of the bill passed the House in late March and the Senate later passed the same version before sending it back to the House for amendments.

"The $50 million in infrastructure funding for the Port of Guam reaffirms this Congress' commitment to ensuring that Guam is prepared for the realignment of forces in our region," said Guam House Delegate Madeleine Bordallo in a statement. "This funding is critical to beginning necessary improvement and modernization projects at the Port of Guam."

The Port Authority of Guam has cited the federal funding as critical to kick-starting a $200 million plan to upgrade the island's commercial port infrastructure deemed necessary to meet anticipated increases in cargo from a planned relocation of U.S. military operations from the Japanese island of Okinawa to Guam. The military buildup, set to begin later this year, will see more than 8,000 Marines, and more than 9,000 military dependents, shifted from Okinawa to Guam by 2014.

The island's port authority and government had failed in several previous attempts to secure initial funding for the port upgrades.

The PAG also plans to use the $50 million in federal funding to secure an additional $50 million loan for port upgrades from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.