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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

FEMA awards $54 million for repairs at regional airports, shipping docks

José Aponte de la Torre Airport in Ceiba

By The Star Staff

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded $54 million to the Puerto Rico Ports Authority for repairs at regional airports and shipping docks, a press release said Tuesday.

FEMA has awarded Ports nearly $174 million for permanent work projects at various air and sea transportation facilities throughout Puerto Rico, the press release noted.

The obligation will allow repairs at the Puerto Nuevo Seaport, Yabucoa Harbor, Rafael Hernández International Airport in Aguadilla and José Aponte de la Torre Airport in Ceiba.

Funding includes more than $4.6 million to cover hazard mitigation work at each site, adding strength and resiliency to permanent work to prevent similar damage from future events.

The Puerto Nuevo Pier is one of the busiest on the island, with more than 30,000 containers or nearly 300,000 tons of merchandise imported every month by local and U.S.-based shipping companies.

In the case of the Puerto Nuevo seaport, over $27.8 million will fund construction at six loading docks, the port’s main roadway, and the Trafon Building -- a two-story, corrugated metal warehouse that serves as one of the main storage facilities for perishable food items.

Nearly $2.8 million is earmarked for hazard mitigation work, including strengthening metal rooftops, improving exterior metal panels, and installing anchoring systems and impact-resistant windows.

Meanwhile, José Aponte de la Torre Regional Airport, located in the former Roosevelt Roads Navy base in Ceiba, was awarded nearly $16.5 million in public assistance funds to repair its main terminal, pilot school, storage facilities and hangars. This amount includes about $800,000 for hazard mitigation repairs to prevent or reduce future damages from similar events.

In addition, FEMA awarded over $5.5 million to repair the main terminal building at Rafael Hernández International Airport, formerly known as the Ramey Air Force Base. Located in Aguadilla, the airport is the largest of the island’s regional air travel facilities, with more than 1,700 employees and nearly 700,000 passengers during 2022.

In addition to the Aguadilla airport’s main terminal, FEMA obligated nearly $3.3 million to repair the Air Rescue Unit and Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico facilities. Lufthansa Technik specializes in maintenance, repair and overhaul of short and medium-range aircraft.

FEMA also obligated over $1.4 million to repair damage at Yabucoa Harbor, a commercial maritime shipping facility located at Playa Guayanés that specializes in storage and distribution of fuel and petroleum derivatives, such as diesel, bunker C, jet fuel and gasoline.

This obligation will allow repairs at several structures, including Pier No. 1, the West Wharf, East Wharf and the breakwater area. It provides nearly $31,600 in hazard mitigation repairs to protect against future similar damage.

Manuel A. Laboy Rivera, executive director of the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3), noted that “in support of the Ports Authority, COR3 advanced $20.5 million through the Working Capital Advance pilot program for multiple reconstruction projects that will transform the ports and airports infrastructure into a modern and resilient one for the socioeconomic benefit of Puerto Rico.”

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