A GROUNDBREAKING ceremony was held Thursday for improvements and the installation of a traffic signal system at the Route 315 Quartermaster Road and Route 33 Beach Road intersection.

The over $1.9 million project commenced on June 1, 2021 and is expected to be completed on Jan. 26, 2022 by contractor USA Fanter Corporation Ltd.

This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation-Federal Highway Administration, with the CNMI Department of Public Works as the contracting agency.

Governor Ralph DLG Torres, in his remarks, extended his gratitude to various stakeholders for being present for the groundbreaking ceremony, including DPW, USA Fanter Corporation, Ltd., members of the 22nd Legislature, as well as the CNMI’s federal partners.

He said the improvements and the installation of a traffic signal system at the intersection is for the safety of all motorists, and is an important component of the Beach Road infrastructure.

There will also be a groundbreaking ceremony next week, he noted, for the road project from Kingfisher to Bird Island.

And this will followed by a groundbreaking ceremony for another Beach Road project.

“A lot of these road projects are not just over a year of work. It’s quite a lengthy process, whether it’s going through [the Historic Preservation Office], [the CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources-Division of Fish and Wildlife], all kinds of permitting that need to be approved by federal partners, so DPW and the other agencies have been working really hard, and now you’re seeing all of this hard work that has been happening throughout the years,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, who heads the Highway Task Force, said, “There are times where we get stuck with permitting and other issues. Throughout that time, this was one of those projects that I felt could be done very expeditiously.”

He commended DPW for getting the project done, and added, “We want you to know that the executive and the legislative leadership will always be behind you, regardless of the challenges and the little issues that pop up. We’re here to help you facilitate all of these highway projects in the Commonwealth.”

Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider, for his part, said, “Politicians want roads to be done because…in terms of project results, [they’re] faster, but as far as the administration’s efforts to push all these infrastructure projects…it’s all too important to…help each other out on how to make the projects seamless.”

Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez said: “We all know that Beach Road is one of our highlights on Saipan. Even living here for the longest time, every time I drive down this road, I enjoy the view; I appreciate the drive. I’m pretty sure our visitors and our residents like to say the same.”

One thing that will make the drive more enjoyable, he said, is the driving experience.

“We do that by improving our road infrastructure and also ensuring the safety of motorists. Earlier, when I came, I heard a lot of cars honking…so we can see that this is a busy place for motorists and is also a hotspot for accidents,” he said.

“So this is a very welcome project, very much needed.”

Speaker Villagomez thanked federal partners as well as DPW, the Torres-Palacios administration, USA Fanter Corporation Ltd., and all stakeholders involved for their commitment to the project.

In his closing remarks, DPW Secretary James A. Ada expressed his gratitude to federal partners, the DPW team, and the Torres-Palacios administration for their support.

According to USA Fanter president Steve Quin, even prior to the groundbreaking ceremony, his team was working on securing the required permits, material orders, and necessary approvals.

These include permits from the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality and the CNMI Zoning Office.

The project will not only install a traffic signal system, but will also improve the walkway curb units, as well as pave 700 feet of the road.

Asked about the manpower needed for this project, Quin said that it varies depending on what work needs to be done.

Reporter

K-Andrea is a Gates Millennium Scholar who earned her bachelor of arts degree in political science from St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. Since joining the MV team in Feb. 2020, she has been covering the political, environmental, and community beats.

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