Ypao Road, a skinny route in the central village of Tamuning, connects about 9,000 motorists daily between the housing subdivisions and business establishments in the commercial district of Tumon. Its current condition is “no longer sustainable for our 21st-century prosperity,” says Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. Hence the government’s move to mark this road a priority, tapping grants from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
On July 5, government officials and contractors broke ground to launch Phase 1 of the $8.5 million Ypao Road Construction and Widening project, which covers roughly 0.35 miles of the narrow street. Designed by E.M. Chen & Associates Inc. and executed by InfraTech International LLC, the job also includes adding bicycle lanes, curb gutters, new sidewalks, a storm drainage system, retaining walls and utility relocations.
The Ypao Road expansion is one of the several federally supported government projects that have kept Guam’s construction crews busy this year.
President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $95 million over five years for Guam’s roads and bridges. According to the federal infrastructure package, Guam can also compete for another $7.5 billion in funding for major projects “that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities.”
“For decades, infrastructure in Guam has suffered from a systemic lack of investment,” the fact sheet reads. “The historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will make life better for hundreds of thousands of Guam residents, create a generation of good-paying union jobs and economic growth, and position the United States to win the 21st century.”
Linda Ibanez, chief of operations at the Guam Department of Public Works, says the FHWA program has issued seven notices to proceed in 2022. “The construction amount for the NTP-issued projects is a total of $29 million,” she says. “The FHWA program is expecting to issue one more NTP for striping and marking on Route 8 (in Barrigada).”
In June, the department announced a $12 million investment in the reconstruction of roads in Sånta Rita and Sumay. It also includes the construction of at least two 11-foot lanes with a 4-foot paved shoulder and a 2-foot graded shoulder. Project designer EMPSCO Engineering Consultants and InfraTech International LLC target a 14-month job completion.
While most road projects have just begun, the government marked the completion of the $7.2 million resurfacing on Marine Corps Drive in June. The FHWA project involved road resurfacing from Marine Corps Drive—the island’s main thoroughfare—and Gov. Carlos G. Camacho Street to Airport Road.
The contractor, Hawaiian Rock Products, upgraded the project areas by adding new milling; overlaying; fixing drainage inlets; and replacing utility manholes, sign panels and new striping.
“This road was last rehabilitated in 1996, a little more than 25 years ago, and many of our island’s young people, have never in their life seen this level of investment into the roads they drive every day,” says Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio.
Guam is seeing a fresh construction boom as it emerges from nearly seven years of labor drought that stalled several projects.
Labor Director David Dell’Isola says Guam has begun to rebuild a stable workforce, with the Department of Labor reporting a record high of 3,000 skilled foreign workers currently stationed on the island. “This number was the largest since 1995,” the labor chief says. “That’s what’s boots-on-the-ground now. They started coming during the pandemic, and several hundred arrived last weekend.”
With several military and civilian projects in the pipeline, Dell’Isola expects the number of H-2B workers to reach 4,600 next year and about 5,000 the following year.
Besides road projects, the government of Guam has also embarked on fixing sports facilities and community centers under the purview of the Guam Department of Parks and Recreation.
In June, Canton Construction Corp. began the renovation of the 34-year-old Agana Heights Gym and Softball Field. The project, which costs $830,340, is funded through the Capital Improvement projects grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“About four years ago, a grant was available for repairs of sports facilities throughout the island from the previous administration, and Agana Heights was not included,” says Agana Heights Mayor Paul McDonald.
The gym renovations include new metal roofing and exterior walls, downspouts and gutters, a new interior cement board wall, new water fountains, new signs for the restrooms, exits and entrances, new gym office tiles and new flooring for the indoor court.
Two other sports facilities are currently undergoing renovations—one in Malesso and another in Dededo. Both projects, awarded to Surface Solutions and launched in May, were funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Surface Solutions is building Malesso’s $1.2 million Multi-Purpose Open Air Gymnasium. The project involves the construction of a new steel gymnasium over the existing tennis court, converting it into a multi-purpose basketball, volleyball and tennis court. The project also includes a newly resurfaced court and lighting system to meet International Basketball Federation standards.
The $1 million Dededo Outdoor Gym project’s features include a new lighting system, resurfacing and restriping of the court, installation of a fence, retractable basketball backstops, an electronic scoreboard, restrooms, bleachers, installation of rims, and flood mitigation in areas around the court.
On July 23, JJ Global Services began construction of the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority’s Inalåhan Basketball Court. The project, which costs $650,000, is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block grant program. “It is estimated that as many as 5,130 individuals, of which 2,273 are low-to-moderate income families, will benefit from this project,” says Ray Topasna, GHURA’s executive director.
On Jan. 27, the government broke ground on the Sinajana Senior Center Extension project, which will provide up to 1,330 square feet of additional space to the facility.
Funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Insular Affairs and awarded to Triple K Construction Co., the $100,000 capital improvement is also part of the Parks and Recreation’s renovation program.
Triple K is building new steel frames and butler roof sheeting for a new awning extension. The contract also includes the removal of existing fencing to build a new 8-foot-high perimeter vinyl-coated cyclone fence, installation of stainless gutters downspouts, painting on metal framings, thick concrete floor slab brush finish, a waterproof exterior lighting system, electrical lighting, aluminum conduits, and electrical wiring and an all-weatherproof junction box.
Another long-delayed project is the rehabilitation of the Port Authority of Guam’s Hotel Wharf. On July 6, Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Co. Ltd. turned the soil on the $46 million project, which is designed to increase vessel berth capacity for cargo and cruise ships allowing for future homeporting of cruise liners. The project will add over 500 feet of usable wharf water frontage to the port’s footprint.
Most of the projects were on hold due to the labor shortage, which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of funds. The stream of new federal money enables several government projects that would otherwise remain on pause.
“We are seeing more workers, and COVID-19 is gone. Now we can continue,” Leon Guerrero says. “We want to make up for the lost time.”
FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION
PROJECTS ON GUAM
AUGUST 20221 Islandwide Village Streets Pavement Resurfacing, Round 4 (IDIQ) PROJECT START: April 2021 SCOPE: Pavement Resurfacing COST: $13,185,857.79 CONTRACTOR: Hawaiian Rock Products PROGRESS: 49% Complete
2 Route 1 Resurfacing from Route 30 to Route 10A PROJECT START: July 2021 SCOPE: Pavement Resurfacing COST: $7.6M CONTRACTOR: Hawaiian Rock Products PROGRESS: 95% Complete
3 Route 28 Rehabilitation from Route 1 to Bumachachu Road PROJECT START: February 2022 SCOPE: Rehabilitation COST: $6.5M CONTRACTOR: Hawaiian Rock Products PROGRESS: 20% Complete
4 Islandwide Safety Improvements on Primary Roads(Striping and Marking) – Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) PROJECT START: TBD SCOPE: Striping and Marking COST: $2M CONTRACTOR: Highway Safety Services PROGRESS: 2% Complete
5 Islandwide Guardrail Repair and Replacement (IDIQ) PROJECT START: TBD SCOPE: Guardrail Repairs COST: $1M CONTRACTOR: Highway Safety Services PROGRESS: 0% Complete
6 Islandwide Primary Roads Paving and Pavement Marking (IDIQ) PROJECT START: TBD SCOPE: Paving and Marking COST: $2M CONTRACTOR: Hawaiian Rock Products PROGRESS: 0% Complete
7 Route 14B Reconstruction and Widening (Route 14 to Carmen Memorial Drive) Phase 1 Cliffside PROJECT START: November 2022 SCOPE: Reconstruction and Widening COST: $8.5M CONTRACTOR: InfraTech International LLC PROGRESS: 0% Complete
SOURCE: FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION