The improvement project underway at the Mercedita International Airport in Ponce are moving ahead as scheduled, representing an investment of $11.8 million Puerto Rico Ports Authority executive director Anthony Maceira said.
Mercedita is the island’s third-largest airport on the island based on passenger volume.
For fiscal year 2018-2019, which ended June 30, Ponce’s Mercedita Airport moved 210,687 passengers, a 17% increase over the 179,490 passengers recorded during the previous fiscal year.
“Ports continues to optimize its facilities, in this case Mercedita International Airport, to improve the level of service provided to both passengers and airlines to continue contributing to the economic development of Ponce and the island’s southern region,” said Maceira.
Ports recently conducted a pavement inspection program at all of the island’s airports, including Mercedita in Ponce. Pavement conditions were evaluated according to Federal Aviation Administration and American Society for Testing and Materials standards.
The evaluation concluded that Mercedita’s Taxiway Alpha showed defects on its pavement, including structural deficiency, such as defects caused by weather as oxidation and cracking.
Based on that, the agency prepared a plan to address these shortcomings, recommending a total reconstruction in the western part of the Alpha airport road.
This project is currently in the construction phase by Constructora Santiago II, which is 30% into the project that should be completed in November, Maceira said.
The total investment of the project is $9.1 million, of which the FAA will cover 90% of the cost.
Works include demolition and paving a portion of the Alpha road, milling another portion of the pre-track, as well as asphalt repaving.
“The portion of the road near the main platform where aircraft turns will be rebuilt with concrete pavement for durability and resistance. LED lights will also be installed on the sides of the road and construction of a new drainage system has been included to improve stormwater drainage,” said Maceira.
“The work is expected to generate 229 direct and indirect jobs to the local economy,” he said.
Ports is also developing an improvement project that extends the capability of Mercedita’s departure lounge, with the goal of improving the level of service to airlines and passengers using this international airport, he said.
This project will cost an estimated $600,000, to be paid with Ports Authority funds and should be completed by the second quarter of 2020.
Ponce’s Mercedita airport sustained significant structural damage during Hurricane María in September 2017 that required temporary repairs to be able to use the facility.
The Ports Authority conducted a bidding process to hire a contractor to repair the terminal’s roof, at a cost of $1.4 million. The funds will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the agency. The project is expected to be completed later this year.
Two other projects planned for Mercedita are: installing underground drainage system at a cost of $250,000 and other repair work to the runway extension, at a cost of $450,000, Maceira said.