Journal Staff

The Tinian International Airport, shown in 2019, will soon have a divert airfield added to the existing facility.

Photo courtesy of the Commonwealth Ports Authority

There are various ongoing projects in the Northern Mariana Islands that will have a significant impact on each island’s economy.

In Tinian, a divert airfield for U.S. military operations is underway, which is an addition to the Tinian International Airport.

As previously reported in the Journal, the Tinian project is more than a year behind schedule. (See Story on Page 1)

According to Kimberlyn King-Hinds, chairperson for the Commonwealth Ports Authority board of directors, the U.S. Department of Defense is finalizing the designs for the parking apron, maintenance facility and cargo pad. A site visit is tentatively scheduled for May 21 for the divert project.

In Rota, there is the possibility of adding an international terminal at Benjamin Taisacan Manglona International Airport.

“There were two potential investors who recently visited Rota who were interested in entering into a public-private partnership with CPA to finance the expansion of the Rota [airport] to accommodate direct international flights from Asia,” said King-Hinds.

Prior to the global COVID-19 situation, Star Marianas Air Inc. serviced three daily flights from Saipan and two from Guam to the Benjamin Taisacan Manglona International Airport.

CPA has allocated $50,000 to hire a firm to assist in developing a request for proposals for the Rota Master Concession. “It is CPA’s goal to get this RFP out as soon as possible, hopefully by July,” King-Hinds said.

Rota West Harbor, which is used primarily for importing commercial goods to the island, is also going to be upgraded and further developed and is in its preliminary stages. Planned harbor development includes a breakwater and expanding the channel for safe entry into the port.

“In developing and improving the West Harbor, basically we have a very positive impact not only for the residents of Rota, but the island’s economy in general,” said Barrie C. Toves, CPA board member. “It’s going to cost more than $100 million dollars to develop West Harbor in a way that’s going to facilitate the expansion we need.”

The U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers was commissioned to conduct studies at Rota and Tinian’s harbors to assess both port facilities. The Rota West Harbor Master Plan, which was last updated in April 2018, is still a work in progress, according to Toves. mbj