The main supply issues affecting the Department of Public Works relate to guardrails, traffic beacons and road paint tablets.

“It comes from private contractors that we have on board,” DPW Director Vince Arriola told lawmakers during a budget hearing last week.

Senator Joe San Agustin, Chairman of the Legislative Appropriations Committee, wanted to know why it took “so long” to repair or replace highway guardrails damaged in vehicle crashes. The problem dates back to before Arriola’s time at the agency, the senator acknowledged, but it was brought to his attention by many constituents, he added.

“The rails take forever to be repaired. If they are already paid for by insurance or by motorists themselves, why does it take so long to have them replaced?” said San Agustin.

Arriola couldn’t put an exact figure on the number of insurance claims for damaged railings, but he estimated it to be less than 50%. This could be due to a number of factors, including motorists not having insurance, he added. The accident could also be due to instances of drunk driving, which are not covered by most, if not all, insurance companies, Arriola said.

He also told lawmakers that as part of their Federal Highway Administration funding, DPW entered into an open-ended contract with a company to replace the guardrails.

“Their biggest problem is that they can’t get railings. This is one of those production problems in the continental United States that has arisen as a result of COVID. The three biggest problems of supplies that we have trouble with (are) guardrails, traffic markers, and road paint granules,” Arriola said. everything we can to make sure that if they are damaged in a car accident…we have all the information to make adequate claims for that.”

San Agustin also wanted to know if the guardrails could be made with rubber padding to lessen the impact of a car crash and potentially increase chances of survival. He also noted that there are areas in Guam that need guardrails, adding that the legislature needs to know what it can do to help DPW achieve these initiatives.

The senator further expressed concern about the lack of visibility of road markings.

“If it rains hard enough on Guam, we can’t even see the markers,” San Agustin said.

Arriola said the reflective markers would help with nighttime driving in the rain, but DPW is struggling to get them because they’re “just not available.”

“We have to wait for production to ramp up, and that’s a nationwide thing. We have the funds for that. Once they’re available and the supplier has them available, we’ll buy them,” Arriola said, adding that DPW will also be placing rubber padded barriers in their designs going forward.

“I know we had them in some areas, like in the overpass. I think they were there at the start and after two crashes they were damaged and never replaced. So we need to do a better job of replacing them,” Arriola said.

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