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Major infrastructure projects are nothing new at A.B. Won Pat International Airport in Guam – over the last 30 years, the airport has seen the construction of an international air terminal and a major expansion project. The third and current air terminal facility was completed in 1998 at a cost of $271 million funded by the sale of general revenue bonds. This airport facility remains the largest capital improvement project ever done on Guam.

While modernization is an ongoing goal for the Guam International Airport Authority (GIAA), the airport’s operators in recent years have put even more emphasis on construction as the island is preparing to accommodate a greatly increased military presence.

The United States and Japanese governments have been discussing plans to move up to 8,600 U.S. Marines and their 9,000 dependents to the island from military facilities at Okinawa, Japan, by 2015, increasing the island’s population by an anticipated 25 percent with the movement of troops, their family and support personnel.

“Given the natural evolution of airports and normal population increases, the idea is always to keep the airport upgraded at all times,” Executive Manager Mary C. Torres says. “We know that with the military build-up our natural evolution will include an increase in passengers, and we want to prepare for that.”

Current Progress

The last five years have seen a number of projects at A.B. Won Pat International Airport in five main areas: the development of more than 70 acres of former U.S. Navy housing adjacent to the property, upgrades to the airport’s main terminal, development of an industrial park, airfield and runway extensions and security upgrades, and upgrades to the airport’s south ramp, the GIAA says.

Recently completed airport property development projects include:

  • A $5 million perimeter security fence
  • A security perimeter road and temporary bypass road, valued at a total of $8 million
  • Demolition of former Navy housing units, valued at $5 million; and construction of a freight-forwarding distribution center and integrated air cargo facility.

In addition, an $11.5 million sound insulation program is ongoing that would insulate approximately 500 surrounding homes that fall within the area exposed to airport noise.

Upgrades to the airport’s main terminal, built in 1998, include seismic upgrades, roof maintenance, concession facilities upgrades, installation of outbound baggage diverters and graphics equipment, construction of an international transfer facility and upgrades to ramp lights. The GIAA also is working to develop an industrial park for future use of airport-related vendors. Roughly $2.5 million of site work has been performed.

The airport’s two runways are being extended at a cost of $15 million in an effort to prepare for larger civilian and military aircraft. The airport’s primary runway, designated 6L/24R, will be extended from 10,000 to 12,000 linear feet, and the secondary runway, 6R/24L, has been extended from 8,000 to 10,000 linear feet. Completion of the runway extension projects will equip the Guam Airport with the capability to accommodate long haul, fully loaded flights and direct service to the U.S. West Coast. 

“We anticipate this will serve as strong auxiliary support for Andersen Air Force Base Guam and want to upgrade our facilities to accommodate that,” the GIAA says. “We anticipate an increase in the types and loads of aircraft coming in and out of the island.”

Planning for the Future

Funding for all airport projects has come primarily from  the Federal Aviation Administration with other grant funding received from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Federal Highway Administration. “We’re very grateful to the local and federal government for their support,” the airport says. “They’ve been huge players in enabling us to perform a large number of projects.”

The GIAA and Guam government are petitioning the federal government for funding for future projects. These include a $175 million expansion project that would increase the airport’s gates from 17 to 20 and segregate inbound and outbound passengers for security reasons; and a $218 million runway retrofit to accommodate military aircraft.

`Excellent Relationships’

Contracts for the current GIAA projects have been awarded to several general contracting and construction management firms, most of which are either local to Guam or international companies with local offices. The authority maintains close communication with all the firms and suppliers working at the airport. 

“We’ve had an excellent relationship with contractors and vendors,” the Authority says.

Key partners include WM Engineering Services LLC and Taniguchi Ruth Makio Architects.

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