San Juan, Puerto Rico - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District, Antilles office, Río Puerto Nuevo Flood Risk Management Project team participated in a community meeting March 28.
The group of 40 attendees, composed of residents and community leaders from the area, learned the latest information about the Río Puerto Nuevo Flood Risk Management Project and had the opportunity to field questions and express their concerns.
Corps of Engineers subject matter experts and staff from the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) addressed the public’s concerns.
José Bilbao, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Antilles, Chief of the Rio Puerto Nuevo Section, and Brenda Calvente, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Antilles, Chief of Puerto Rico Integrated Program Office, both expressed their gratitude to the community for participating with the team to discuss the current progress that has been made and the upcoming work.
Bilbao and Calvente addressed project topics and general descriptions of the approaching construction, utility relocation, project access routes, and projected temporary impacts during the construction period of performance.
"The benefits of the project, which includes a recreational area, currently in conceptual the phase, will benefit residents of San Juan, as well as a flood risk reduction in the event of a 100-year rainfall," said Bilbao.
Puerto Nuevo Norte residents expressed concerns about the vibration the project will produce in the structures of the oldest neighborhood built in Puerto Rico, construction-related dust and its effect on elderly residents and the human resources the Non-Federal Sponsor, DNER, will provide them to work with any issue related to the project.
Maricarmen Crespo, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Antilles Office Area Engineer, clarified the Corps' construction standards, explained the responsibilities of the contractors regarding the neighbors’ concerns and detailed best practices on how to document if the project negatively impacts a residence.
"Safety is always paramount and it is vital that we continue to engage with our community and stakeholders to protect lives and property, " said Crespo. "By engaging and getting to know their needs, we are able to better communicate, how engaged they are and how our plans and actions to help keep them safe.
Community meetings are essential engagements where the Corps of Engineers communicates directly with the public, local government, agencies, and other stakeholders and provide a space to provide information, address concerns and build community relations.
Both Bilbao and Crespo agreed the meeting was a success and at the end of the evening, the Río Puerto Nuevo Flood Risk Management Project team commitment to a second meeting to further address other concerns that were left unanswered because of time.
The Puerto Nuevo Flood and Risk Management Project consists of several segments of projects. The construction is scheduled for completion in 2032.
The objective of these projects is to improve the capacity of the current channels since, in their existing state, they cause severe flooding both to residents and businesses in the area.
Once the project is completed, it is estimated to provide economic benefits of approximately $125 million per year.
The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District on the district’s website at www.saj.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict, Twitter at www.twitter.com/JaxStrong, and Instagram at www.instagram.com/jacksonvilledistrict.