GARAPAN Saipan — The $2 million project to brighten Coral Tree Avenue was due to be formally opened on July 25 an impressive three months ahead of time.

With power lines buried and new lighting the street — a third of a mile long — has taken on a clean and fresh look.

Thomas J. Nielsen president of Maeda Pacific Corp. which reconstructed the road told the Journal “We have put the power lines underground — that was a big portion. We also improved the drainage and provided a pedestrian-friendly sidewalk and lighting.”

The capital improvement project was federally funded through U.S. Covenant funds.

While the new one-way traffic flow to the north means the loss of some parking the Hyatt Regency Saipan and the Dai-Ichi Hotel Saipan Beach now sit facing 81 coral trees called gao gao trees in Chamorro.

The Coral Tree Avenue project was designed as part of the $4 million Paseo de Marianas pedestrian mall also constructed by Maeda Pacific which opened in 2004.

Nielsen said the pedestrian mall had been a big investment for the government and was slowly attracting more retail outlets.

“What’s happening is it’s changing from a nightlife to a more family-type area which was the whole intent. We’re going through that transition now. GNC came in after the grand opening that’s better than a nightclub; Subway is there. They seem happy.”

Nielsen said development of the area would be ongoing. “There’s talk of the Night Market moving back [from American Memorial Park]. They want it right on the mall.”

About 75 dignitaries and guests were due to attend the ribbon cutting.

Maeda Pacific’s other projects in the region include installation of a new $13 million water system at Andersen Air Force Base. “They’ll eventually be cut off from GWA [Guam Waterworks Authority] producing treating and distributing it ” Nielsen said. With construction started in June the design-build project is due to be completed in June 2006 and has about 100 people working at Andersen.

The company is also working on Route 27 known as Fatima Street in Dededo a $2 million Department of Public Works project due for completion in early August; and a $500 000 parking lot project at the Guam Judicial Center due for completion in September. MBJ