Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering announced that the existing runway at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport will be extended approximately 2000 feet eastward into the sea and approximately 500 feet towards the west. The Deputy Premier also announced that they will embark on a measure which will ensure that Trellis Bay does not become a "dead bay".
"There has been quite a number of concerns regarding the negative impact to the environment in the area. Please be assured, Madam Speaker, and I would like to let the people of this Territory know that nothing will be done to negatively impact Trellis Bay. In addition to the elevated embankment, we are also considering another engineering solution which involves the construction of an elevated platform on columns," he told the House of Assembly today, June 29 during a statement.
The Minister said this option will not interfere with the wave action that is necessary to flush the bay. "Therefore, the fear among its users that it would eventually become a dead bay can be debunked," the Minister assured.
The Minister told the House that the technology, even though new to the Caribbean region, has already been used elsewhere in the world in the construction of either runways, taxiways or apron structures.
"One such airport is the London City Airport which was completed in September 2003. Another such airport is the La Guardia Airport visited by the Director of Airports Authority [BVIAA], the Project Engineer and myself. And yet another airport on the other side of the Atlantic is the Medeira International Airport to be visited by a delegation in August of this year, led by me. Madam Speaker, we are also reliably informed that the authorities in Boston, USA are making plans to extend the Boston Massachusetts Airport runway using similar technology," he explained.
The Deputy Premier also disclosed that Government has started dialogue with airlines interested in flying from the mainland US directly to the BVI once the airport runway is extended.
"The Managing Director [of the BVIAA], Mr. Denniston Fraser and myself were in New York this week where we met with executives of Jet Blue Airlines on June 25, 2012. This meeting was very encouraging and we are expected to meet with other interested carriers in the coming months."
He added that the sheer magnitude of the project dictates that all due diligence is exercised to ensure that the people of the Territory receive the best possible product.
"To ensure that this happens, a technical working group, led by the Project Manager is being assembled to carefully and meticulously review all reports and other documents and recommend to the Steering Committee, led by myself, on the best way forward."
Meanwhile, he disclosed that members of the BVIAA Board have begun the task of reviewing the impact assessment study submitted by Kraus Manning at the end of May 2012, as well as the technical report submitted by the International Airlines Transport Association (IATA).
The Minister stated that the Airports Authority has commissioned Davidson Ltd., a company in the United Kingdom, to produce a report on feasibility of conducting an approach by high performance jet aircraft to the runway.
"The company was also charged and has delivered approach charts for the said approach. Davidson, in their report, has recommended an aeronautical study prior to any night operation by high performance jets at the T. B. Lettsome International Airport. This report will be submitted to Air Safety Support International (ASSI) for final approval," he stated.
Selecting Contracted Companies
Minister Pickering said the sheer nature and importance of the project to the Territory dictate that Government pay keen attention to which company or consortium of companies will be given the contract for development. He said with that in mind, they have employed a two-tier process that will guide their selection.
"In step one of this two tier process, we will be sending out, as early as next week Monday, an expression of interest document. In this pre-qualification stage, interested and appropriate companies will be invited to respond to a set of prequalification criteria. This stage is expected to be completed by August 2012," he said.
The Minister explained that the second stage of the process will be the request for proposal commonly referred to as the RFP stage, which is scheduled for October 2012.
"In this stage, the companies selected in stage, one will now be required to submit a final detailed proposal for the planning, design, financing and construction of the project. In this final stage, the Government will select the company or consortium of companies best suited to move ahead with the project. This is expected to take place during October and December 2012 and then we begin the final construction of the runway extension which is expected to be completed by December of 2015," he stated.
Winston Wilson is the Project Manager on the airport expansion project.