Port Authority of Guam

Several things have changed since the Port Authority of Guam’s (PAG) present-day seaport was built in the 1960s. The methods and equipment used to transport people and goods have evolved to meet growing populations and increased trade demands. However, the PAG has remained largely untouched, and in 1999, ready for a sea change, it devised a master plan calling for capital improvements to its 1,000-acre space. 

In 2007, the port contracted Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) International Inc. to update its master plan following the U.S. military’s announcement that it planned to relocate military personnel and their dependents stationed in Okinawa, Japan, to Guam, a U.S. territory. PB completed the master plan in April 2008, and it was approved by Guam’s legislature in September 2009. At the same time, Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, U.S. Air Force Commander of United States Transportation Command, designated the port as one of 16 strategic seaports for the United States. 

Population Shifts

The U.S. military’s proposed population shifts within all three branches could result in 30,190 military personnel and their dependents being stationed in Guam by 2016. Currently, Guam hosts two military bases – the Andersen Air Force Base and the U.S. Navy Joint Region Marianas.

“The Port Authority’s facilities were constructed by the federal government more than 45 years ago under the Rehabilitation Act of 1963,” says Pedro A. Leon Guerrero, general manager. “Since then, no major upgrades or expansion have been made to the seaport. Upon learning of the news regarding the relocation of Marine forces from Okinawa to Guam, it was evident that upgrades needed to be made not just for the military expansion but for Guam’s organic growth, as well.

“The Port Authority plays a vital role in the lives of all citizens living on Guam and the territory,” Guerrero continues. “Because of our location we are almost entirely dependent on our sea link to the United States and to our foreign contacts ... it is the port’s vision to transform its facility into a world-class terminal for Guam and the Western Pacific Region.”

This accelerated plan is the road map for the port’s modernization. It calls for $260 million in capital improvements to be made spanning a 30-year period. The first two phases, Phases 1-A and 1-B, are proposed to be completed by 2016. Currently, Phase 1-A construction plans are in the hands of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), which is the lead federal agency for the Port of Guam Improvement Enterprise Program. Former President George W. Bush tasked MARAD with awarding construction contracts.

“The work to be accomplished under Phase 1-A will primarily emphasize upland facilities, equipment, site utilities and computer operating systems to provide adequate capacity and effect immediate operating efficiencies at its terminal,” Guerrero says. “This will assure that terminal capacities in critical bottlenecks are brought on line, early. Environmental clearances will be obtained prior to the initiation of the upland construction phase.”

Phase 1-A includes reconfiguration and expansion of cargo terminals, creation of a new gate complex, reconfiguration and expansion of selected buildings, upgraded utilities and security features, and state-of-the-art terminal and computer gate operating systems.

Well-Funded Support

Phase 1-A is funded through a federal grant and loan proceeds. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) appropriated $50 million, which was approved by the House of Representatives in June 2010. In October 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded PAG a $54.5 million loan. PAG is responsible for securing its own credit for construction projects. The debt is paid from charges, fees and other revenues generated from its own facilities. PAG believes the impending constructions will result in greater revenue to help pay for the improvements, thus creating a self-sustaining operation. 

“This is great news for the Port Authority and the people of Guam,” PAG management said in a statement. “We are humbled by the faith the USDA and DOD have in our port and our project, and we are honored they have joined us on this journey to overhaul our commercial seaport.” 

The port has yet to secure financing for Phase 1-B, which includes wharf repairs; dredging and procuring; and installing gantry cranes and additional security equipment. The second phase will be completed 30 years into the future and will evolve to “address the cargo demands of the long-term organic growth of Guam and our neighboring islands,” Guerrero states.

The port is confident it will receive necessary funding to conclude all three phases as it continues to address needs pertaining to ocean commerce, shipping, recreational and commercial boating and navigation of Guam. It is Guam’s lone commercial seaport and handles more than 90 percent of the island’s imports. It is also a transshipment hub for neighboring islands in Micronesia and the Western Pacific region.

“The project is key to achieving the port’s overall mission,” Guerrero says. “It is our objective to modernize the port as a first-class facility in the region providing cargo-handling services in safe, efficient and sustainable manner. To achieve this, the port must increase capacity, execute infrastructure development and port expansion to meet the community’s organic growth and the impending military buildup, promote economic growth and opportunities for maritime-related industries and address the needs of port users.”

Partners in Success

As PAG diligently works toward this goal, its subcontractors and vendors have come alongside it to make sure it is able to serve the current and future needs of Guam and other international communities. PAG’s key partners on the expansion project include Data Management Resources LLC and GTA Teleguam.

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