PDP mayors in DC to address rise in construction costs, slow pace of CDBG-DR project approvals
By The Star Staff
Puerto Rico Mayors Association President Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz, along with Guayama Mayor O’brain Vázquez and Naguabo Mayor Miraidaliz Rosario Pagán traveled to Washington, D.C. this week for a meeting with Justo Robles, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) director of intergovernmental affairs, in order to generate solutions to increasing construction costs and the slow pace of approval of projects financed with federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds.
“It is important to review inflation in the fixed cost estimates required by FEMA for the permanent reconstruction works from Hurricane Maria, which is why the Mayors Association presented complete information on the projects that are affected in each municipality by the increase in the costs of construction materials and equipment,” Hernández Ortiz said.
Among the most important things that happened in the meeting with the FEMA official, the mayors said, was that the agency committed itself to evaluating the fixed costs and taking into consideration the recommendations of the Mayors Association in achieving a uniform review of the projects to facilitate getting the projects up and running.
It is a cause of concern for the mayors as well as for the developers because of the time that the reconstruction work has taken. Costs have increased between 20% and 40% meanwhile, causing particular challenges.
“We have held meetings with the Builders Association and its president, architect Vanessa de Mari, and they share the same concern about the high costs if they delay the construction of new projects because no one assigns prices for more than 30 days and the materials are then delayed,” Hernández Ortiz said. “Ultimately, this is a domino problem that affects us all.”
The Mayors Association will continue to follow up with FEMA to achieve viable results after the conversations that are taking place in the U.S. capital.