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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor inaugurates Martín Peña Channel restoration


The overall project consists of three contracts and has the purpose of dredging and restoring the waterway known locally as the Caño Martín Peña.


By THE STAR STAFF


Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Tuesday helped kick off work on the initial United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) contract for the restoration of the Martín Peña Channel in San Juan.


The total project consists of three contracts and has as its purpose the dredging and restoration of the channel known locally as the Caño Martín Peña.


The governor said the project’s first phase consists of the extensive clearing and removal of vegetative waste over about 40 acres in the maritime-terrestrial zone around the channel. The initial phase will significantly improve the impacted areas, contributing to the cleanup of their surroundings, and restoring and protecting the natural resources of the channel, he said. In this way, the quality of life of the residents of the communities will improve considerably, paving the way for achieving sustainable socioeconomic development.


Dorado Service Inc. will be in charge of the implementation of the project’s first phase at a cost of $3.38 million. Some 50 jobs will be generated in the initial phase, which it is expected will be completed in May.


Pierluisi said subsequent phases of the federal project include the dredging of 2.2 miles of the channel, which will help rehabilitate the flow of seawater to the San José Lagoon, the restoration of 36 acres of mangroves, and the installation of walls to stabilize the shore and control erosion, as well as improvements in the Luis Muñoz Rivera Avenue and Urban Train (Tren Urbano) bridges spanning the channel.


The total investment is $163.3 million in federal funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and $90.7 million from local funds that includes funds from the commonwealth government and ENLACE Corporation.


“The struggle that the residents of the G8 [communities adjacent to the channel] and the ENLACE Corporation have been waging to make this project a reality has yielded great fruits,” the governor said. “The dredging and restoration of Caño Martín Peña is a project for which I have been working since the day I began my tenure as resident commissioner in 2009. As governor I declared it a priority project, so I gave my word to ENLACE and to the G8 communities that I would not rest until I see it under construction.”


Pierluisi was accompanied at the project inauguration by Michael Connor, the U.S. Army assistant secretary for civil works; José Barea Fernández, president of the ENLACE Project Corporation of Caño Martín Peña; Mario Núñez, executive director of ENLACE; and Lucy Cruz, president of the G8.


The governor emphasized the importance for his administration of the work on the Caño Martín Peña and its contiguous communities, noting that when his term as governor began he created a group to ensure the continuous development of the project.


“From La Fortaleza we follow up on all the necessary work in the Caño, to make sure that we provide the necessary resources and continue working until each of the phases is completed,” he said. “In fact, the project for the relocation of the Borinquen trunk road, which is the product of an ENLACE work agreement with the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority [PRASA], is nearing completion. PRASA is also in the bidding process for the relocation and capacity increase of the Rexach siphon, and is in the design stage of the drinking, sanitation and rainwater systems for the communities of Barrio Obrero, San Ciprián and Buena Vista in Santurce, for which I assigned $132 million in funds from the American Recovery Act.”


Once a wide waterway, the Martín Peña Channel has become a narrow, fetid channel from the relocation of families from other parts of the island who squatted along the waterway and over the years filled the channel with garbage left behind by families who preceded them.


The island government and nonprofit organizations have built housing projects to relocate the families living in inferior conditions in the vicinity of the channel.

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