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Construction of new COTA headquarters underway

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CNMI officials gathered on Thursday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority, or COTA, administrative building and maintenance facility in Lower Base.

The building will include a backup generator, a non-potable water tank, a wash area, parking pavement designed to accommodate 40-foot buses projected to be in the CNMI, site lighting, and site security fencing.

Moreover, the maintenance facility will include an integral maintenance bay with two maintenance bays and one service pit.

Because the project is located in a flood zone, the elevation will be about two or three feet higher upon project completion.

The overall project includes project management, architectural and engineering design, construction management, and construction services amounting to over $4.3 million.

A competitive grant totaling $6.3 million was awarded to the Commonwealth by the Federal Transit Administration to fund this particular project.

The project contractor is RNV Construction, while the engineer of record and construction manager is GHD Inc.

“Since our inception and through these difficult times, COTA has faithfully completed 67,588 trips to date,” Special Assistant for Public Transportation Alfreda Camacho said.

Numerous officials, including Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority administrative building and maintenance facility on Thursday in Lower Base. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

“The project we are here for today is more than cement blocks, gravel, wires, and pipelines. We see it in a broader context as the beginning of the new dawn in the CNMI as it solidifies that public transportation is here to stay for the benefit of our islands and our people.

“Our chief goal remains the same: to guarantee that the level and quality of the transportation service is provided to all persons of the CNMI. This building will allow it to fulfill that and so much more.”

In closing, Camacho said, “Know that this will not just be a building to us. This will be the place we call home.”

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the ultimate goal is to have public transportation not just on Saipan, but on Tinian and Rota as well.

He thanked COTA, the front liners, and everyone who has been activated during this disaster and previous disasters for their hard work and dedication.

“We would not be here today with our success rate without COTA. They continue to sacrifice their lives every day…I’ve seen them grow. I’ve seen them sacrifice their lives [and] their family’s lives for the betterment of our community,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, for his part, congratulated Special Assistant Camacho and COTA for their persistence, and commended all departments and agencies involved in the project, noting the importance of interdepartmental and inter-agency collaboration.

Established in 2011, COTA “strives to provide the Commonwealth with a “dependable, reliable, safe, and cost-effective public transit system in order to reduce energy consumption, strengthen cultural values, and contribute to economic development.”

Known as “the premier island-wide public transit provider committed to safety, courtesy, quality, responsiveness, efficiency, and innovation,” COTA has grown from just two vehicles and three operations personnel to 11 transit vehicles and 20 operations personnel.

It has been activated during natural disasters, including the current global Covid-19 pandemic, to assist with mass evacuations, transportation shelters, and other needs during times of crisis.

For the crucial roles they played in bringing the building project into fruition, Special Assistant Camacho thanked the governor and the lieutenant governor, the CNMI 21st Legislature, Saipan Mayor David Apatang, Department of Public Works Secretary James Ada, DPW-Technical Services Division Director Anthony Camacho, Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Anthony Benavente, Department of Public Lands Secretary Marian Concepcion-Teregeyo, Office of Grants Management and State Clearinghouse Administrator Epi Cabrera, Department of Corrections Commissioner Wally Villagomez, Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality Administrator Eli Cabrera, the Historic Preservation Office, the Zoning Office, the Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, Karidat Social Services, Kagman Community Health Center, Northern Marianas College, the Office of Planning and Development, the Center for Living Independently, Pacific Engineering Group & Services, GHD Inc. and RNV Construction.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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