View Full Version : Bomb carrier accident prompted thoughts of new military highway

05-08-06, 08:31 AM
Article published May 8, 2006
Bomb carrier accident prompted thoughts of new military highway

Almost 40 years ago, if memory serves, a young Navy guy lost control of his bomb-carrying truck at Pott's Junction, en route to Andersen Air Force Base. He was horrified to see the bombs roll off the truck bed onto the highway.

The bombs weren't fully armed and didn't go off. Still, there were a lot of scared people on Guam.

That accident propelled the military into thinking big about the future. The future is now.

As an important part of the infrastructure the United States is putting in to help Guam accommodate 8,000 Marines and their families, these old plans are being revived. They are going to build a new road across the island.

Carl Peterson, chairman of the Guam Chamber of Commerce Armed Forces Committee, which has lobbied for an increased military presence on Guam, noted that the military has been talking about this "direct" road between the Naval Station and Andersen for many years.

I recall that engineers were on island in the late 1960s to survey the route. Obviously, Marine Corps Drive, aptly named, is the shortest, most direct route between Naval Station, the port and Andersen. The only trouble with that is that it is also the main civilian highway, packed with cars and school buses.

Peterson thinks that the military would like to create a new, safe road on Guam to transport munitions.

I have poured over maps of the island. The most plausible route would leave the port, head up to Naval Magazine, then tie in with Cross Island Road to Route 4, then up through Yona to the "back road to Andersen."

Guam's highway people have already talked, and planned to widen and align Route 15.

It is possible that large numbers of Marines will be staying in Andersen South, or areas south of the back gate at Andersen. I don't think it has been completely resolved yet as to where the Marines will be located. Some may wind up at Northwest Field, where huge areas of unused property exist.

I just hope that the military, in their efforts to build this new highway, which will probably help the civilian population, doesn't have to condemn private property.

The move of the Marines from Okinawa to Guam will cost in the range of $10.27 billion. The U.S. government, it has been reported, will contribute $4.18 billion toward the Guam relocation, including $1 billion for the road. It is hard to imagine. That should keep construction workers busy for years to come. Jobs will be created, believe me.

One section of the Marines coming here will be the 1st Marine Air Wing, currently at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa. Also due to come to Guam will be the Marine Corps "Sea Stallion" helicopters currently at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. With all this air power, I imagine the Marines are really ticked off that they turned over Tiyan to the civil government on Guam.

The Northern Marianas has a rough choice to make. It is a choice between payless paydays or laying off a lot of people. There seems to be nothing but gloom and doom there. One lawmaker said: "No one wants to cause hardship, but we must do something about our financial situation." The government can save as much as $4 million by cutting wages by 10 percent.

Tourism has plunged because Japan Airlines has cut back its flights to the CNMI and their clothing industry is fast disappearing.

I went over to the University of Guam field house this past weekend to sign up as a veteran. I'll be very curious to see how many veterans Guam has. I would think it will be somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000, simply because when the call went out, the people of this island were always quick to respond.

To be honest, I don't expect any benefits. I enlisted in the Navy because we were at war. I served my time, got fed and clothed, and was given a bed to sleep in. They even paid me for flying in divebombers. After the war was over, I went home and had most of my education at the University of Wisconsin paid for by the federal government.

Every veteran should register, simply because the feds believe in numbers.

All that talk in Washington about abolishing FEMA got to me. Yes, they were a disaster during and following Hurricane Katrina. They didn't move fast enough. But it has been my experience that, over the years, they have helped Guam a good deal.

FEMA believes in mitigation. They are helping GovGuam in the long, slow process of putting the GPA power lines underground.

In the years ahead, hopefully, when the next typhoon hits us, we'll be able to get our power back faster because the damage to the lines won't be as severe. Don't abolish FEMA -- just get a competent manager, and get it out of the Department of Homeland Security.