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Ports, shippers seek federal grants for improvement projects

The executive director of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, Joel Pizá, has announced that the public corporation and shippers Tote Maritime and Crowley have submitted project proposals to the federal Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant program to enable additional improvement projects to the port facilities in Puerto Nuevo and Isla Grande in San Juan. 

In its news release, Ports said the filings are part of its strategic plan to take advantage of federal grant opportunities and maximize those resources.

Pizá pointed out that, “given the opportunity to compete for federal grants that enable the development of critical infrastructure projects, the Ports Authority incorporated last year the local shipping industry in the development of this strategic plan to examine their particular needs.

“As a result of that strategy, Tote Maritime and Crowley joined this effort and filed their respective requests. We are grateful for this joint effort for the benefit of infrastructures that offer essential services to support basic systems at a social, economic, environmental and political levels.”

The Ports official assured that “the Authority worked on a sufficiently persuasive proposal to participate this year in the RISE [grant program] with the reconstruction project of the road infrastructure Avenida C. We submitted the design, not only in concrete or asphalt, but to add it, widen it and include elements of solar traffic lights and their maintenance.”

It is estimated that it would cost about $25 million, Pizá said about taking advantage of the “opportunities available to help solve this 20- to 30-year-old problem, since those areas began to be developed, but the road infrastructure remained the same. We are hopeful we will prevail in this process.” 

Meanwhile, Tote submitted an application for a modernization and resilience project, particularly to work with the pavement in the staking areas.

Tote Vice President Eduardo Pagán stated that, “the opportunity to participate in this investment program … represents one of many initiatives of continuous improvement and Tote’s commitment to our customers and citizens.”

Similarly, Crowley presented in its application a project to improve the resilience and efficiency of the Isla Grande terminal. This includes the staking area and mooring dolphin, the structure used to secure vessels in place.

Crowley Logistics Senior Director José Francisco Nazario said that “the proposals for infrastructure improvements presented by the Ports Authority seek to optimize terminal operations in general, ultimately strengthening the shipping industry in Puerto Rico.”

Another member of the local maritime industry that supported thies joint effort was Hernán Ayala-Rubio, executive vice president at Luis A. Ayala Colón Sucrs. 

“Our company fully supports the Puerto Rico Ports Authority and its request under the RISE program to rebuild Pier C. Restoring the Port of San Juan to its maximum operational capacity and strengthening its infrastructure is essential for Puerto Rico’s economic security,” he said.

Author Details
Author Details
Maria Miranda is an investigative reporter and editor with 20 years of experience in Puerto Rico’s English-language newspapers. In that capacity, she has worked on long-term projects and has covered breaking news under strict deadlines. She is proficient at mining data from public databases and interviewing people (both public figures and private sector individuals). She is also a translator, and has edited and translated an economy book on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. She worked as an interpreter for FEMA during the recent recovery efforts of Hurricane María and earned her FEMA badge.

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