Federal funds will be used to repair docks that will be transferred to private operator of cruise
By The Star Staff
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Thursday that work will begin to rebuild the Pan American Piers I and II on Isla Grande in the coming weeks through an investment of $7.5 million even though the facilities will be put under a private operator.
Piers I and II will become part of the proposed public-private partnership with Global Ports Holding for a cruise ship terminal. La Fortaleza press officials were unavailable for comment. In 2022, Global Ports Holdings won the 30-year concession to operate the San Juan Cruise Port.
The $7.5 million will pay for permanent improvements and thus repair and mitigate the damage caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
The news was reported Thursday by Pierluisi, Ports Authority (APPR by its Spanish initials) Director Joel A. Pizá Batiz, Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience of Puerto Rico (COR3) Executive Director Manuel Laboy Rivera and the federal disaster recovery coordinator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Puerto Rico, José Baquero Tirado.
“The Pan American docks are a great asset to continue expanding our goals to attract more cruise ships that choose us as a home port or stopover,” the governor said. “Each dock can receive deep-draft ships and has a large passenger terminal and baggage handling area. In addition, the docks also receive the ferry that provides service between Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and San Juan. Keeping in mind the importance of these docks, we will now make a series of permanent improvements to address the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, with an investment amounting to $7.5 million from the FEMA Public Assistance Program,, along with the matching of CDBG-DR [Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery] funds under the Department of Housing.”
Pierluisi noted that the improvement works include waterproofing of roofs in the terminal; restoration of the metal envelope of the building; replacement of doors, windows and skylights; improvements to the drainage system; interior restoration and painting work; replacement of lighting fixtures; repairs to utilities; and pavement improvements, among other restoration work for damage caused by Hurricane Maria.
The start date of the project is October 2023. It is estimated that the work will last for a period of 6-12 months. Operations at both tourism docks will not be affected since the work will be scheduled by area and coordinated so that any interruption to port operations is mitigated through effective collaboration between the APPR, the contractor, the operators and related agencies.
“This project to improve the dock facilities will provide a safer environment for employees and tourists, as it will mitigate the possibility of damage in the event of an emergency in the future,” Pierluisi said.
Pizá Batiz stated that “maintaining maritime facilities in optimal condition and complying with the regulatory standards of local and state agencies” is an administration priority.
“For this reason, we continue to move forward with numerous capital improvement projects to have a robust and resilient infrastructure, as well as continue supporting the maritime industry and the economic development of Puerto Rico.”
The COR3 chief, meanwhile, emphasized that “to give resilience to the infrastructure of these docks, the project includes mitigation measures and the use of materials resistant to future natural disasters.”
“This project has an advance from the Working Capital Advance pilot program of $2.8 million,” Laboy Rivera said. “At COR3, we will continue to support the Ports Authority team in completing this reconstruction process, as well as 87 other permanent projects in the design stage and with obligations that amount to $177.5 million.”