FRANCISCO C. ADA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Saipan — The Commonwealth Ports Authority said the $12 million rehabilitation of the facility’s 31-year-old runway will cause “minimal” flight disruptions.

Carlos H. Salas consultant to CPA said that they have been working closely with engineers and airline officials to ensure that the rehabilitation does not cause flight delays or cancellations.

“We want to ensure the project has minimal impact on their operations ” Salas told Journal. He said airline officials have been very cooperative.

Salas said that the airport’s runway has been without repair for the past 25 years “They understand the whole point of this project.” He said “We want to preserve this infrastructure and make it functional for more years to come.”

Lee C. Cabrera executive director of CPA said that midnight to 6 a.m. will be scheduled as a “no construction period” as this is the airport’s peak traffic hours; work will only be done from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. “These are accommodations based on airline schedules ” he said.

Salas said 200-seater Boeing 757s and 156-seater Boeing 737s will have to land through a parallel taxiway which will be upgraded before work on the runway begins.

He said work on the runway would be stopped to accommodate wide bodies like Boeing 747s as they fly in.

The runway rehabilitation project involves three phases: the relocation of a 40-million gallon open water catchment facility; the upgrading of the parallel taxiway; and the “re-surfacing” of the main runway where top sections will be removed and re-paved and certain portions will be repaired to keep the pilot’s line of sight from end to end.

Cabrera said the Federal Aviation Administration recommended relocation of the water catchment facility built in the 1970s to accommodate water runoff because of the danger it poses to air traffic. FAA officials provided funding for the relocation. He said the ports authority and FAA are funding the project with the federal agency having provided the bulk of it.

Cabrera said the project is in its permit-issuance stage with government regulatory agencies like the Historic Preservation Office the U.S. Division of Fish & Wildlife the NMI Division of Environmental Quality and the Coastal Resources Management Office and is expected to get off the ground in the third quarter of the year. He said the project will take three to six months to complete after which another phase will commence that involves filling up both ends of the runway to address concerns about the steep slopes which go down to 20 feet for every 1 000 feet.

Cabrera said the project costs about $14 million. He said architectural and engineering design is still being finalized “We are hoping to have the A&E finished by the time the runway rehabilitation is done.” MBJ