Strength – The governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced, together with the mayor of Aguadilla, Yanitsia Irizarry, and the executive director of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority (APPR), Joel Pizá Batiz, announced on Tuesday the start of the construction project of the new runway 8-26 of the Rafael Hernández de Aguadilla International Airport.
“This project is extremely important for Puerto Rico and goes hand in hand with the development of a hub or hub for cargo and passenger transshipment operations in Aguadilla, after the delivery last April of the final dispensation by the Department of Transportation from the United States. We are very pleased that it is already underway, thanks to the great work done by the Port Authority team, ”said Vázquez Garced in written communication.
This construction, to be carried out over the next five years, has an estimated cost of 135 million dollars using federal grants and the agency’s own funds, making it the largest infrastructure project in Puerto Rico and the entire Caribbean.
For her part, the Mayor of Aguadilla highlighted the important role played by the Rafael Hernández International Airport and its great economic contribution to the western region.
“This airport is the second busiest in Puerto Rico, being served by airlines such as JetBlue, United and Spirit, and air cargo companies such as FedEx, Emirates, Caribe Express, and CargoLux, generating over 1,400 direct jobs and 6,000 indirect jobs, representing over 1,500 million dollars annually to the economy of the island. The construction of this new track announced today by Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced will definitely be a key element in promoting more tourism and economic development in Aguadilla, as well as the entire western region, ”said Irizarry.
After an inspection of the pavements at all the airports, the evaluation of runway 8-26 showed defects in the pavement, recommending its total construction.
In 2018, APPR submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the consideration of the Aguadilla Runway Reconstruction project, which was accepted by the federal agency, conditional on the completion of the Evaluation Environmental and a financial plan, among other requirements.
In September, APPR received an additional historic grant of $ 24.2 million to develop the Rafael Hernandez International Airport runway reconstruction project.
“The Planning and Environmental Areas of the APPR completed all the required studies, obtaining the final approval of the FAA, which allowed the granting of the additional grant of these funds. The environmental process was participatory and publicly shared, in accordance with the National Environmental Protection Act ”, highlighted Pizá Batiz.
The plan approved by the FAA for said runway allows construction activities to be carried out without interrupting the operations of said airport facility.
The scope of work includes demolishing buildings south of the airport, converting the Mike runway to a new runway parallel to the existing runway, and converting the existing runway to a runway.
The first step of the project involves hiring a consulting firm to prepare the auction package or “kit” (Request for Proposals or ‘RFP’) to search for a project manager and contractor.
The “Design / Build” format will be used where the project will be designed and built on the fly.
The RFP of the project is scheduled for March 2021. The selection of the consulting firm and the contractor is scheduled for April of the next year, the signing of the contract would be given for May of that same year, and the beginning of construction for the third quarter from 2021.
According to data from the Planning Board, the construction of the new runway 8-26 will lead to the creation of 3,105 direct, indirect and induced jobs during its five years.
“APPR continues to be well focused on optimizing our air facilities, in this case at the Rafael Hernández de Aguadilla International Airport, to continue contributing to the economic development of the western region and the entire island,” concluded Pizá Batiz.