Mingo: Causeway adjustment cost will not be significant – funds from Union Road upgrade taken back-

POSTED: 02/13/13 12:28 PM

St. Maarten – The Causeway project across the Simpson Bay Lagoon will go ahead with structural adjustments and chief executive officer of the Harbour Group of Companies Mark Mingo says that the initial construction which breached civil aviation standards was not deliberate.

“Before St. Maarten became a country there was an approval for the height of the Causeway by the aviation department of Curacao. The inputs of the approval of the aviation department were done by several institutions. At that time the approach for an aircraft coming from Marigot side, there no consideration kept .When we became country our own aviation inspectors questioned that, they were some adjustments were made. That is normal. We re-did the report and adjustments were made on the height,” Mingo told Parliament yesterday.

The height of the structure is now at 23.5 ft and features two driving lanes, and well as walkways on both sides. After the structure was built almost twice its height, alternations meant that architectural drawings had to be redesigned and what was already built had to be removed. Mingo said that discussions are still ongoing with the contractor, Volker Stevin, the adjustments but the cost will not be significant. He was at the time responding to questions asked by United People’s Party Member of Parliament Jules James on what additional costs would be incurred for the adjustments.

“The amount will not be significant as less material will be used.”

Finance Minister Roland Tuitt had said that the Causeway re-construction could end up costing taxpayers at least 5 million guilders more than the 150 million guilders that was secured for its construction via a bond from the Central Bank.

He said that the Causeway was not a project that was created out of thin air but rather came from a road network study that was done in 1997.  It has to do with road access to the airport and also the end of life of the Simpson Bay Bridge, which is 5 years, the Harbour boss remarked.

“We need to plan for that. There has also been a huge issue with the traffic.”

He said that the Harbour made minimal fee increases in containers and through port, to fund the Causeway project but he believes that the cost to the community is being exaggerated.

“It is nothing where you would say that we would increase the cost of living by 15 or 20 percent. It is not what people say or think, this has been done looking also at the economic impact.”

He reasoned that the cost to taxi drivers who spend a lot of time in traffic as opposed to driving, would be significantly reduced with the usage of the Causeway. The structure has been described by the National Alliance as the “bridge to nowhere”, citing its inability to stop traffic congestion at key intersections in Colebay and on the Colebay Hill.

 

Union Road Funds Redirected

Several reports were also made on the Causeway with a recommendation that the Union Road be upgraded and widened. However Mingo told the Central Committee of Parliament that the Union road is no longer a priority.

“At this point in time, the port has more focus on its piers because we still need to do repairs on Pier 1 and Pier 2. Pier 1 is still in litigation with Ballast Nedam.  The port, together with the lawyers, are busy selecting an arbitration board to determine what needs to be done with the liability of Pier 1.”

Dutch construction company Ballast Nedam is not accepting responsibility of the significant structural damage to Cruise Pier I and claims that the damage resulted from the berthing of cruise ships too large for the pier. Mingo declined to provide further information on his course of action, since it is a legal matter now.

Mingo said that the Union Road funds were designated back to the Harbour and this was done with the approval of the shareholder.

It is all being done to “protect the status quo of the core business”, Mingo said.

James lamented the fact that the people of Cole Bay would be deprived of a proper road because the funds allocated for same would be diverted back to the Harbour.

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Mingo: Causeway adjustment cost will not be significant - funds from Union Road upgrade taken back- by

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