FAA grants to fund airport work

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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Port Authority board approved a number of contracts for major improvements at the territory's airports Tuesday.

The work is largely funded with $10.7 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants.

A $4.8 million grant from the Airport Improvement Program is for Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix; $1.7 of which is entitlement funds, and the balance of $3.1 million is discretionary funds.

The territory was barred from applying for discretionary funds since 2002 because the FAA wanted the Anguilla Landfill shut down because of its proximity to the airport and the danger of birds striking aircraft.

The V.I. Waste Management Authority is in the process of shutting down the landfill and according to Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe, the FAA is satisfied with the progress and has lifted its ban on discretionary funds to the territory.

"This is significant. This particular grant is significant," Dowe said Tuesday.

A number of contracts were awarded for the rehabilitation of the Rohlsen Airport aircraft parking apron. In a 2008 study, areas of the apron were rated failing or near failing, according to the Port Authority. The cracked and uneven concrete surface is a hazard to people getting on and off airplanes, according to the contract summary.

The total projected cost for the project is $6.6 million. The project is funded 90 percent by the FAA and 10 percent by the Port Authority.

The board approved a $1,006,462 contract to Ricondo & Associates for engineering services and quality assurance; amended a previous contract with Ricondo & Associates to add $29,946 for re-bidding the apron project and providing stormwater management permitting assistance; and awarded a $4,131,098 contract to V.I. Paving for the construction of the new apron.

The board also approved a $132,406 contract to Ricondo & Associates for a Rohlsen terminal operational enhancement study.

Board members were excited about the study, which will asses how the St. Croix airport can be enhanced.

"Yes, we have the facility and all that, but we have to make it more user friendly," board Chairman Robert O'Connor Jr. said.

The study will be funded 90 percent by the FAA and 10 percent by the Port Authority.

An $83,158 change order was approved for V.I. Paving, which is under contract for a parking lot expansion at Rohlsen. Once the contractor ripped up the existing surfaces, the soft soil underneath was not adequate to bear the loads required for the lot, and additional work must be done to shore up the base for the new pavement. The change brings the total project cost to $514,187.

A new aircraft rescue and fire fighting station is in the works for Rohlsen Airport as well. Tuesday, the board approved a $152,812 contract to Ricondo & Associates for planning and engineering associated with the project.

For St. Thomas, the board approved a $445,858 contract to URS Caribe for the rehabilitation of the apron east of the rescue and fire building.

URS Caribe was awarded a $33,785 contract to design a third exit lane for aircraft at King Airport.

The board authorized Dowe to negotiate a three-year contract with URS Caribe for aviation consultant services for King Airport.

In other business, the board:

- Approved three payment plans for vendors in arrears. The plans are for Crown Bay tenants Island Ambrosia, V&G's Originals and Omni's Inc.

- Authorized the payment of $97,420.08 to the V.I. Labor Department for accumulated benefit charges from 1994 to 2012. The amount is for unemployment claims made by employees.

- Approved an amended scope of services for Bermello Ajamil & Partners, the company hired to conduct a marine rate study. The board wants the company to forecast cruise activity for the next six years and look at the feasibility of establishing the territory as a significant cargo transshipment port. The additions to the contract extend the amount by $85,000 to an amount not to exceed $243,000.

- Approved a 10-year lease for the Transportation Security Administration at King Airport. The TSA will pay the Port Authority about $13,042 per year for storage and office space.

- Approved a three-year lease for Transport Ltd. to operate out of the Blyden Marine Terminal. The monthly rent is $600.

- Approved a three-year lease renewal for Offshore Marine Services at $79,858 per year for three parcels in Sub Base.

- Granted a permit and lease to Patrick Joseph to operate a small restaurant in Cruz Bay, St. John, on Port Authority property. The rent is $400 a month for 754 square feet of space.

- Approved a $2 million insurance settlement for the Sub Base building damaged by fire in March 2012.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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