The Navy is in the process of conducting a study that would create a munitions highway between Big Navy and Andersen Air Force Base according to correspondence obtained by the Journal.

Marc A. Gagarin chief engineer with the Department of Public Works is working closely with the military on the route.

He said “It basically starts from Naval Magazine to Route 17 [Cross Island Road] to LeoPalace. From thereon it connects to Route 4. There are two alternative routings that we are looking at. Either it goes to Route 10 [Vietnam Veterans Highway] or goes through directly to Route 15 [the back road to Andersen] and then from Route 15 it goes all the way to Andersen then along the perimeter fence to Potts Junction.”

Gagarin said because the road would cut across virgin lands the federal government would have to acquire private property to create such a highway.

In a Feb. 17 letter to Madeleine Z. Bordallo Guam’s delegate to Congress; Rear Adm. Arthur J. Johnson former commander of Naval Forces Marianas; advised that talks were under way with Gagarin regarding routes for transportation of ordnance on Guam’s roads. “My staff has also begun discussions with Mr. Gagarin to develop options for routing ordnance shipments to Andersen Air Force Base away from densely populated areas of Guam.”

The admiral indicated that the Navy is in the preliminary stages and will work on submittal of a report.

“The Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) has been contacted and we have requested the necessary information to commence the development of the Defense Access Roads Needs Report which is the first step in the DAR process. Once we receive the necessary information from the SDDC we will coordinate with all key stakeholders to expeditiously complete the submission package.”

On Feb. 3 Bordallo wrote to Johnson indicating her concern over the “growing pains” the island is experiencing related to the growth of military activity on Guam.

In her letter Bordallo expressed her interest in ensuring military cargo transported between Big Navy and Andersen Air Force Base does not pass through densely populated areas. Bordallo suggested the Navy could take advantage of Defense Access Roads Program funds to make any future road improvements. “As you are aware the Defense Access Road (DAR) Program can be used to mitigate the impact of a military installation experiencing an increase in operations or needing to transport oversized equipment on public roads. To initiate a DAR request a base commander must first identify the requirement for a new road to the Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC). I strongly encourage you to evaluate the growing transportation requirements of COMNAVMAR and to request a study of the best route for secure access between Guam’s key defense facilities.”

The United States Department of Transportation Web site states “The Defense Access Road (DAR) Program provides a means for the military to pay their fair share of the cost of public highway improvements necessary to mitigate an unusual impact of a defense activity. An unusual impact could be a significant increase in personnel at a military installation relocation of an access gate or the deployment of an oversized or overweight military vehicle or transporter unit.”

Bordallo also wrote that initial work on a highway road carrying munitions must be carried out. “The first step is to upgrade the road [Route 2A] from the Naval Station up to the Naval Magazine [Route 5]. This road is in poor condition yet it serves as a vital link to the munitions storage facilities. I would appreciate if you could update me on what stage this proposal is at currently. I am particularly interested to learn more about the funding mechanism that could be used for this project and if it is included in your plan for military construction funds or could be accomplished through the Navy’s Operations & Maintenance account.”

Johnson replied in his letter “I concur with your assessment of the road to the Naval Magazine. My staff has been collaborating with Mr. Gagarin Chief Engineer of the Department of Public Works who plans to use FY-06 Territorial Highway Funds for its repair and improvement. Mr. Gagarin informed my staff that his office is soliciting bids for the design of improvements of Route 5 from Route 2A to the village of Santa Rita. Once the design is completed and approved he plans to move forward with the award of the construction phase.”

Gagarin said the government of Guam is assisting the Navy by supplying documents for the needs study. “Once you have established that there is a need then we have to study the location — the corridor study. Once we have established the corridor I am sure there will be an environmental assessment that will have to be made and that is a long process ” he said. Gagarin said construction or even the conceptual phase of this potential project is years away. He said the whole process could take 10 to 15 years. “As a comparison if you are familiar with H-1 Hawaii … that took 20 to 30 years to build. The environmental portion took 15 years alone ” Gagarin said.

However he emphasized roads near military installations on Guam are being improved not just for military use but for the community’s use as well. Gagarin said the Route 12 [Camp Covington Gate through Santa Rita village] to Route 5 roadway reconstruction is in the middle of the negotiation phase and will soon be in the design phase. Gagarin also spoke of other roads that will receive improvement including a portion of Route 15 leading to Andersen “The Naval communications center NCTAMS to Potts Junction will soon be advertised. We’re going to improve that area — it will be a design-build.” MBJ