Major roof repairs underway at Vieques airport
By John McPhaul
The Puerto Rico Ports Authority (APPR by its Spanish initials) has begun permanent repair work on the roof of the Antonio Rivera Rodríguez de Vieques regional airport terminal, APPR Executive Director Joel A. Pizá Batiz announced Monday.
The airport, the only one in Vieques, connects the island municipality through commercial flights to the municipalities of Ceiba, Carolina and San Juan, and to other Caribbean islands.
During the passage of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, the Vieques airport suffered severe damage, such as the rupture of most of the metal panels and insulation material, as well as drainage ducts, and the detachment of the roof waterproofing system, allowing the entry of water into the passenger terminal. “To resolve the situation, emergency repairs were carried out that allowed the facility to be used,” Pizá Batiz said.
Despite implementing the temporary repairs, the APPR chief noted, the current condition of the airport terminal is complicated by the penetration of water into the second floor.
“Regional airlines have been affected by this situation, having to move their counters in a disorganized way to the first floor, causing, in turn, poor service to the local passenger and the tourist,” Pizá Batiz said. “However, we needed a solution that was permanent, durable and resilient.”
APPR recently managed to complete the study and design process and awarded a $1.85 million bid for a total and permanent repair of the terminal roof. The work is expected to be completed in about six months.
As detailed by Pizá Batiz, APPR worked through the entire damage definition and cost estimation process with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with the assistance of Puerto Rico’s Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience, for the project to be eligible for a 90 percent rebate under FEMA’s Public Assistance program.
The repair work consists of the removal and replacement of the existing metal panels, repair of the roof surface, replacement of drains and the installation of a new waterproofing system on the entire roof of the terminal, impacting an area of some 12,000 square feet, in addition to other improvements to the terminal.
“We are implementing a more robust design that will greatly improve the resilience of the terminal, maintaining commercial operation at the airport, and at the same time ensuring mobility and evacuation of people in the event of an emergency,” Pizá Batiz said. “This work reaffirms the commitment of Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced and APPR to continue improving the experience of our residents and visitors, who use this important regional airport daily.”