Obtaining the permit is only the beginning, though. The entire project, slated to cost $16 million, is to be fund half by the V.I. government.
The process of negotiating a workable and acceptable plan has gone on for 12 years, involving various federal and local agencies, according to a release from Port Authority director Gordon Finch. The permit was issued on Nov. 15 by the Corps of Engineers, but Finch said his staff had to do a cost and feasibility analysis to decide if the Port Authority was in a financial position to comply with 11 pages of special conditions attached to the it.
"It's been a long haul and a very frustrating one," Finch said. "I know it has been especially frustrating for the residents of St. John, many of whom may not understand the permitting process for a project of this magnitude."
He said the Port Authority has already set aside $3 million in a fund for the project, and the Public Works Department has dedicated $4 million of federal funds for the year 2001 and another $4 million for 2002 to subsidize the project.
The Port Authority board plan to ask Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to make the project a priority in his administration's allocation of federal funds for infrastructure improvements, Finch said.
"If the federal funds, which are disbursed by the Department of Public Works, can be made available now, a request for design/build bids will be issued without further delay," he said. "If those funds are not made available until Fiscal Year 2001, it appears very unlikely that the bid request will be issued before this period."