U.S., Palauan Leaders Open “Road to the Future”
MELEKEOK, Palau (October 1, 2007) – Deputy Assistant Secretary David Cohen, representing Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, today joined Republic of Palau President Tommy Remengesau and federal officials to formally turn over a $150 million, U.S.-funded road that will spur economic development on Palau's largest island.
The 53-mile road, which circles Babeldaob, was built to help foster Palau’s economic development by opening Palau’s largest but sparsely populated island to residential and commercial development. Babeldaob accounts for almost 80 percent of Palau’s land area, or about 153 of Palau’s total 189 square miles of land. The road, which provides access to Palau’s recently completed capitol at Melekeok and links with roads to Palau’s air and seaports, is 24-feet wide with asphalt-concrete surface and shoulders, and includes two causeways, seven bridges, 372 culverts, and 20 box culverts.
The Palau archipelago, located about 700 miles southwest of Guam and 500 miles east of the Philippines, has more than 300 islands of which 9 are inhabited. Palau is one of three freely associated states allied with the United States through Compacts of Free Association. Prior to becoming sovereign, these islands were part of the U.S.-administered U.N. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
[Photo Credits: Joseph Bonfiglio, U.S. Army Photographer, USACOE, Ft. Shafter, HI]