Highway PR-10 to get $541 million for extension
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi
By THE STAR STAFF
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Wednesday announced plans to extend highway PR-10 between Arecibo and Ponce, with $540.7 million in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds.
Most of the new PR-10 is now complete, with a 6.2-mile (10-kilometer) stretch still remaining to be finished. In its current state it is a freeway only in the completed portions, which make up over three-fourths of the highway.
Pierlusi said that to obtain the money the government had to request authorization from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and undergo a rigorous evaluation, including an environmental impact statement.
The project represents the largest allocation of federal funds, Pierluisi noted. The work, in total, will cost $552 million.
“To obtain these funds, we completed an extensive cost-benefit study that justifies that the project is necessary and that future risks are minimal as it is a mitigation project,” the governor said. “HUD’s approval is a sign of the confidence the federal agency has in the conduct of our government.”
PR-10 is a crucial north-south connector whose construction began in 1972.
“The remaining segment slated to be built is between the towns of Utuado and Adjuntas,” Pierluisi said.
The extension is divided into four sections and includes the construction of 20 bridges in the mountainous area.
Pierluisi specified that the project will benefit 1.3 million people and will generate some 9,720 jobs for residents of the central zone, translated into 5,400 direct, 3,780 indirect and 540 temporary jobs.
As part of the press conference announcing the project, island Housing Secretary William Rodríguez Rodríguez signed an agreement with Transportation and Public Works Secretary Eileen Vélez Vega to grant her $540.7 million for the work. The remaining $11.3 million will come from state funds, Pierluisi said. The Housing Department is the local custodian of CDBG funds.
Meanwhile, Highways and Transportation Authority Executive Director Edwin González Montalvo noted that the construction of PR-10 “is a priority project, both for the governor and for us.”
“For this reason, we are very pleased to be part of this agreement in which, for the first time at the national level, the federal department of Housing, through the local agency, has authorized such a significant allocation for the construction of a public highway.”