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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Federal injection of $776 million to fund infrastructure projects

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said the 23 selected projects will have a total cost of over $900 million. (Gov. Pierluisi/Facebook)

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and Housing Secretary William Rodríguez Rodríguez announced on Wednesday the investment of $776.2 million in CDBG-MIT funds for 23 projects under the Infrastructure Mitigation-Competitive (INFRA-MIT) program.

The projects are geared toward flood control, improvements to the telecommunications system, solid waste management, and maritime and air transportation infrastructure, among others.

“From hurricanes Irma and Maria to the earthquakes that affected our island, we have prioritized providing new resilience to reconstruction works that allow the vital infrastructure of our island to withstand the onslaught of potential future disasters,” the governor told reporters. “To that end, as part of the Infrastructure Mitigation Program, or INFRA-MIT, of the federal housing department’s CDBG-MIT Program, we have set aside just over $1 billion in mitigation funding for projects that strengthen the critical facilities of our island and at the same time promote the mitigation of climatic, seismic and deterioration threats to our infrastructure and the ability to provide services to citizens, particularly to our vulnerable populations.”

Pierluisi said the selected projects have a total cost of over $900 million and the allocation of the INFRA-MIT program will be just over $776 million.

Most of the projects are in the planning stage, and in six of them the designs are practically completed, the governor said. Among the next steps will be a series of meetings where entities can receive technical help for complying with state and federal regulations to apply for subsidies.

The projects must comply with at least one or more of the seven community lifelines, including safety and security, hazardous materials, energy, food, water and shelter, health and medicine, communications, and transportation.

“We are proud to move forward with these transformative projects that will make a significant difference in our communities,” the island Housing secretary said. “Each project has been selected for its potential impact on improving the quality of life of Puerto Ricans, demonstrating our focus on sustainability, innovation, and resilience.”

After an evaluation in compliance with the requirements of the federal government, 23 projects from 15 municipalities, four government agencies and two non-governmental entities were preselected. Among those chosen include the municipalities of Aguadilla, Barceloneta, Canóvanas, Ceiba, Coamo, Dorado, Isabela, Juana Díaz, Lajas, Maunabo, Moca, Toa Baja, Utuado, Vega Alta and Yabucoa, which will have flood control projects, improvements to their telecommunications systems, redundancy and resilience of public services, recycling and solid waste management, transportation, security and protection.

Likewise, four government agencies, including the Ports Authority, the Department of Transportation and Public Works, the Office of Management and Budget and the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, were chosen for projects related to transportation, flood control in roads, telecommunications of critical services and security. In addition, two non-governmental organizations, in this case, MedCentro and Menonita Hospital in Aibonito, will develop projects involving access to health services.

“Meanwhile, under this program, we have strategic infrastructure projects that will receive funds and include important projects such as PR-10, La Vita in Mayagüez, and the Army Terminal, which we announced yesterday,” Pierluisi added.

Regarding the distribution of the awarded CDBG-MIT funds, the municipalities will receive $382.2 million, government agencies will obtain $318 million and non-governmental organizations will have $76 million to carry out their projects.

The distribution of funds underscores the government of Puerto Rico’s focus on investing in resilient and sustainable infrastructure, which benefits a wide range of sectors on the island, the officials pointed out. Following the coordination meetings with the selected entities to ensure compliance with the necessary requirements, the process will continue with the formalization of the subsidy agreements.

The Housing Department will also provide assistance and training related to CDBG-MIT funds management and compliance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: So that our employees can participate in Holy Week activities, the STAR will not publish on Friday, March 29.

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