Friday, August 6, 2010

President Approves $50M for Guam Port Upgrades

President Barack Obama has signed into law federal appropriations providing $50 million to kick off a major upgrade program at Guam's commercial port.

President Obama, on Thursday, signed into law the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010. In addition to providing additional funding for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the measure also contains language authorizing the Department of Defense to transfer the $50 million for operations and maintenance to the Port Authority of Guam's Improvement Enterprise Fund. The funds will be administered by the U.S. Transportation Department's Maritime Administration, or MARAD.

"The $50 million in port infrastructure funding will immediately benefit the Port of Guam by allowing them to proceed with modernization and infrastructure improvement projects," said Guam Congressional Delegate Madeleine Bordallo in a statement.

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 needed to meet anticipated increases in cargo from an impending relocation of U.S. military operations on the Japanese island of Okinawa to Guam. The military buildup will see more than 8,000 Marines, their operations and more than 9,000 military dependents shift from Okinawa to Guam by 2014. The buildup is set to begin later this year.

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

The Port Authority 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.