May 15, 2003 – It's official: "The construction of the Enighed Pond Marine Facility on St. John is in full swing," the Port Authority announced Thursday in a release.
Darlan Brin, Port Authority executive director, anticipated that the commercial port project — more than two decades in the making — will be completed by July of next year, according to the release.
The project involves the construction of 650 feet of berthing space for cargo vessels and a channel turn-around basin able to accommodate boats up to 175 feet in length with a draft of up to 12 feet. It also includes the development of six acres of land for cargo handling and storage.
"The new facility is expected to meet St. John's increasing cargo business for the next 25 to 30 years," the release states.
According to Brin, once the new cargo port is operational, VIPA will utilize the existing cargo dock at the Creek for passenger vessels only — and to develop "an upscale pedestrian boardwalk at the dock." At present, the cargo dock accommodates motor vehicle barge traffic to and from St. Thomas and foreign vessels as well as cargo ships.
American Bridge Co., a construction firm based in Orlando, Florida, that has been contracted to develop the Enighed cargo port, "has completely cleared the project site, removed mangroves from the pond within the project limits, prepared an area for sheet pile storage, and erected a silt fence around the entire site," the release said. The next phase of the project will involve opening the mouth of the pond and dredging it.
A formal ground-breaking ceremony, scheduled last month, was postponed.
The Enighed project itself was delayed repeatedly over the last two decades because of planning, design and funding issues. The impetus to move the project to reality was an agreement signed in October 2001 by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and the Port Authority to fund the project with federal highway Grant Anticipated Revenue Vehicles (GARVEE) bonds.
GARVEE bonds, authorized by Congress in 1995, are a financing instrument for states and territories to fund transportation projects based on their anticipated federal highway funding. Such governments issue GARVEE bonds for such projects using future federal highway funds to repay the principal, interest and any other associated costs.
The V.I. government successfully applied for the GARVEE bonds to fund the entire $16 million Enighed project. The government further agreed to provide the $16 million in advance funds in order to expedite the project, and to reimburse itself with proceeds from the GARVEE bonds.
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