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PRWOW News Service

Governor: Port Of Americas Construction To Begin In Ponce

By Proviana Colon Diaz

January 17, 2002
Copyright © 2002
PRWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved. 

PONCE -- Without completing a viability study or the Environmental Impact Declaration (EID), Gov. Sila Calderon announced Thursday that construction of the so-called Port of the Americas will begin in this southern city sometime after March.

Meanwhile, the decision to add Ponce to the project puts an end to the controversy regarding the possible location of the port, as the previous administration argued that Guayanilla was the ideal site, but Calderon's administration had yet to take a decision on the matter.

Although she announced the decision Thursday, she was unable to explain what was the criteria or the motive to include Ponce in the project and limited herself to saying that she discussed the controversy with experts and even the mayor of Ponce before reaching the decision.

As concluded by the Senate Industrial Development Committee investigation, Calderon did say it was easier to begin construction in Ponce as the only thing needed to make the area fit for the project is dredging, which is a common practice in Puerto Rico. Whereas in Guayanilla, although the area is wider than in Ponce, it must be filled with land so it can be fit for construction, something that is much more complicated than dredging.

Still, both municipalities will be included in the EID as sites where deep piers will be built in order to receive "post-Panamax" style ships, which are too big to fit the Panama Canal.

On Thursday, the governor assigned $11 million for the development of the project, specifically the dredging in Ponce, and $27 million for the project in Guayanilla.

Calderon made her statements Thursday during an afternoon press conference that began with a 90-minute delay at the Ponce pier.

Last August, Calderon held a press conference at the same site to announce the official notice of intent to build the Port of the Americas before the US Corps of Engineers. She then added that in the coming months the government would be filing the EID.

Such intent, however, failed to take place, as Calderon acknowledged Thursday that the government filed only a draft of the EID last December before the Environmental Quality Board, and come February her administration would be filing location consultation before the Planning Board.

When asked what was the status of the EID or the viability study, Calderon said all "those studies are advanced."

She then dismissed criticism in regards to the delay in the project, including the completion of the studies, permits, or EID, because her administration is working "correctly" toward the goal.

When questioned anew by PRWOW about similar projects in other jurisdictions and their possibility to be completed before the island does, the governor said the information received by her administration states otherwise.

"The information we have is that we compete very well with the other projects," Calderon said.

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