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Senate President Gittens Thanks Commerce Secretary For Funds To Repair Airports

FREDERIKSTED – Senate President Kenneth Gittens said the $27 million in federal grants announced today will bring much needed improvements to the territory’s two airports.

The funding is beneficial particularly as the Virgin Islands continues its recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Some of the grant funds will go towards making the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix more impervious to hurricane force winds and rains.

According to estimates, the projects are expected to help retain 179 jobs, create up to 158 new jobs and generate $6.1 million in private investment.

The formal announcement was made on Wednesday morning after a lengthy application and review process. Last November it was announced that the territory had made it to the final stage of the grant approval process.

“I thank the officials at the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as our V.I. Port Authority and the other local agencies that worked hard to go after these crucial grant awards,” Senator Gittens said. “Our airports needed improvement even prior to the storms and now we are on the path toward much needed upgrades and modernization. The projects not only support the Territory’s recovery, but will also help foster job creation, promote private investment, facilitate inter-island travel and enhance tourism.”

Senator Gittens thanked the Vice President of the 33rd Legislature, Donna Frett-Gregory, for representing the body at Wednesday morning’s grant announcement. Also in attendance was Senator Allison DeGazon, who chairs the Legislature’s Committee on Economic Development, Regulations and Agriculture. The grants announced include: 

  • $20 million to construct a Parking and Transportation Center at the Cyril E. King Airport on the island of St. Thomas. The project will improve transit access and operational capacity to minimize time required for the transport of people and goods, driving both economic recovery and resilience. The project is expected to help retain 139 jobs, create up to 116 jobs and generate $5 million in private investment. 
  • $7 million to renovate and expand approximately 6,550 square feet inside the Henry E. Rohslen Airport on the island of St. Croix. This project will improve the structure’s ability to withstand powerful tropical weather and will provide a broader resiliency to the island by restoring tourism and import/export opportunities. The project is expected to help retain 40 jobs, create 42 jobs and spur $1.1 million in private investment.

 These projects are funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, in which Congress appropriated $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, wildfires and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.
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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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