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VG Airport Geotechnical Survey

Monday, March 26 – Government has contracted a Puerto Rican firm to conduct the geotechnical survey for the Virgin Gorda Airport Development Project.

Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE on Friday signed a $120,487.50 contract with the firm Jaca and Sierra Testing Laboratories, Inc. to undertake the two-month survey, which will help determine the type of soil and its usability for filling the sea, in the reclamation phase of the project.

After affixing his signature to the contract, Premier O’Neal said, “Today’s signing is very important in the life of the Territory, especially Virgin Gorda.” He added, “We are very pleased that you are here today signing the contract and while the airport will not re-open after this is done, the people will be pleased to know that we are carrying out some of the directions we get from Air Safety Support International (ASSI).”

Premier O’Neal explained that the geotechnical survey is one of the elements required by ASSI, which is the regulatory body for airports in the Territory. “We will continue to carry out the directions ASSI gives. They demanded a geotechnical survey. This contract would cost some money; it is going to last about two months and after that we have instructions to blast some of the big stones and I understand arrangements are well in hand for the blasting,” Honourable O’Neal stated.

Speaking directly to the representatives of the contracted firm, the Premier said, “We expect you to do a good job, do it on time and on budget.”

Minister for Communications and Works, Honourable Julian Fraser, RA, who witnessed the Premier’s signature, said he knows all too well the importance of geotechnical surveys.

“Airport runways are nothing to be taken lightly,” Honourable Fraser said, adding “they are highly scientific, but no one pays attention to that because it is not important to them. They just want to land on the airport but we have to make sure that it is safe.”

The minister continued, “This phase of the work is so important before we can start moving what is considered to be an obstruction to the current runway, which is high ground. We cannot just blast the rocks and drop them in the sea and say that we have met the requirements of extending the runway.”

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He described the survey as a first step and said “we have to learn to appreciate first steps.”

Owner and President of the contracted company, Mr. Carlos Sierra, said his company is honoured to have been granted the contract.

Recalling that his grandfather conducted the geotechnical studies for the Central Administration Building in the 1980s, Mr. Sierra said he is “glad to be third generation and coming to the BVI as my grand-father and father did to help and develop this beautiful land.”

He also gave assurances that the company will do a good job. “We will make sure that our work will be done within time and budget and as always look forward to coming back and doing some more work and helping the BVI,” Mr. Sierra said.

Also present at Friday’s contract signing were Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Honourable Omar Hodge and Territorial Representatives, Honourable Keith Flax, Irene Penn O’Neal and Vernon E. Malone, as well as representatives from the BVI Tourist Board, the BVI Airport Authority and Halcrow Group Limited. The ceremony was chaired by Acting Deputy Secretary in the Premier’s Office Ms. Sandra Ward.

The geotechnical survey is part of the preliminary work for the development of the Virgin Gorda Airport. It will help to inform the final design of the development project. The creation of a modern airport on Virgin Gorda represents Government’s ongoing commitment to improve the Territory’s infrastructure as part of efforts to facilitate continued growth and development.

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