USACE'S TASK FORCE VIPR 

Virgin Islands   Puerto Rico
 

Task Force VIPR

Brig. Gen. Daniel Hibner, commander U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division, (Left) watches as Col. Charles Decker, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, commander, Task Force VIPR, Jacqueline Keizer U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, Task Force VIPR Deputy District Engineer for Project Management and (with Flag) Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Rodney C. Russell, South Atlantic Division Command Sergeant Major posts the colors. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Atlantic Division formally commissioned Task Force Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in a ceremony at the historic Fort Castillo San Cristóbal in the of San Juan Jan. 23.
Task Force Virgin Islands Puerto Rico (TF-VIPR) Commander, Charles L. Decker, Deputy Commander, Maj. Ricardo A. Herrero, and other TF-VIPR senior members briefed Governor Pedro Pierluisi and other government leaders on the status of projects on the Island, Feb. 13, 2024.
South Atlantic Division Commander Brig. Gen. Daniel Hibner hosted an assumption of command ceremony as Colonel Charles Decker, a New York native and resident of Puerto Rico, became the first Commander for Task Force VIPR on July 21, 2023. Task Force VIPR is now responsible for the civil works and infrastructure mission in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division commander, Brig. Gen. Daniel Hibner and Puerto Rico Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon Resident for Puerto Rico, introduce key leadership that is currently coordinating the creation and establishment of Task Force U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico (TF VIPR) during a press conference that was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Task Force U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico (Task Force VIPR) was created to organize and prioritize the demand of construction projects throughout the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division commander, Brig. Gen. Daniel Hibner announces the creation of Task Force U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico (TF VIPR) during a press conference that was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (USACE photo by Luis Deya)

Introduction

Introduction 
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to take new approaches to engineering solutions for our nations toughest challenges and introduced the new task force that aims to speed up construction of the ongoing civilian works in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. 

On April 2023, the Chief of Engineers approved the South Atlantic Division’s (SAD) proposal to establish Task Force Virgin Islands Puerto Rico (VIPR) to provide leadership, oversight, and support for USACE Civil Works and public infrastructure projects in U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and to provide construction management of all construction activities. 

Task Force U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico (Task Force VIPR) was created to organize and prioritize the demand of construction projects throughout the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  These works are the product of more than $3 billion in federal funds, the largest sum of allocations USACE has received in its history for projects on the island, and which were supported by the Congresswoman, most of them under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

Municipalities of Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.   

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division oversees construction in this area of operation.   Recent natural disasters on the islands have increased requirements in the civil works, military construction, inter-agency, international support and environment programs. The construction program has drastically grown in terms of the number of projects and funding.

Congress passed supplemental funding bills (BBA 18, DRSAA, and BIL) between 2018 and 2022 that provided new appropriations throughout USACE.  

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division commander, Brig. Gen. Daniel Hibner and Puerto Rico Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon made the announcement of TF VIPR establishment during a recent press conference.






 

Projects include all PR and USVI Civil Works projects in the Construction appropriation, plus IIS projects that are similar in scope to the CW mission (Guajataca Dam). These projects are incredibly complex, many having life safety implications, and include massive construction efforts in urban, coastal, riverine, and seismically active environments all threatened frequently by tropical storms and hurricanes. Additionally, TF VIPR is responsible for construction management for ALL USACE projects in PR and USVI to include MIL/IIS. 





 


 

Existing positions currently fully dedicated to supporting Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands projects will be reassigned to the new Task Force organization. Reassignments will be coordinated with all parties involved before execution of the personnel actions.   

The new approach of establishing TF VIPR is unprecedented in two main areas.  A first for a commander with the rank of colonel will command a district-size task force on the island of Puerto Rico and the program has more projects and more funding now than in the entire history of USACE engagement in Puerto Rico.

“I welcome this Task Force and I vow to continue to work closely with them so that our people can be safe in the face of natural disasters,” said Gonzalez.  “The Corps of Engineers has created an exclusive work group to attend reconstruction here in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands and we are happy, and the volume of projects and budget is such that Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands needed a dedicated team to attend the workload, and therefore Task Force VIPR has been created.”

TF VIPR leadership structure will focus on all current and future civil projects in their area of operation.

Since 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) - South Atlantic Division’s portfolio of programs has increased enormously in terms of number of projects and overall scheduled obligations each fiscal year. These increases resulted from natural disasters as well as requirements growth across Civil Works (CW), Military Construction (MILCON), Interagency & International Support (IIS) and Environmental programs.

  

The TF VIPR will carry out works in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, including the following work planned for Puerto Rico:

 San Juan - Flood Risk Management Project Río Puerto Nuevo - $1.5 billion

San Juan- Improvements to San Juan Harbor- $45.5 million

San Juan- Ecosystem Restoration Project-Caño Martín Peña-$163.2 million

San Juan- Army Reserve Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program (ERCIP) Puerto Nuevo $9.6 million

San Juan -construction of FDA facility $10 million

Dorado, Toa Baja y Toa Alta- Flood Risk Management Project Río de La Plata- - $485.2 million

Arecibo - Flood Risk Management Project Río Grande de Arecibo- $174.1 million

Gurabo y Caguas -Río Grande de Loíza – FY24 Expressed Capability

Aguada y Aguadilla - Flood Risk Management Project Río Culebrinas -$26.4 million

Ciales- Flood Risk Management Project Río Grande de Manatí - $14.8 million

Guayanilla- Flood Risk Management Project Río Guayanilla -$60.6 million

Aibonito- Río Aibonito- $50,000 for studies

Santa Isabel-Rio Descalabrado- pending.

Guaynabo – 4 proyectos de reconstrucción en el Fuerte Buchanan-$63 million

Salinas- Army Reserve National Guard Joint Training Center -$291 million

Salinas- Río Nigua - $47.8 million

Mayagüez -Río Guanajibo- $107.1 million

Quebradillas- reconstruction of the Guajataca Dam- pending.

Since 2017 USACE has completed the following projects:

Fort Buchanan Access Control Point - $10,274,721.12

Fort Buchanan Apparatus Building- $2,191,640.38

Fort Buchanan Physical Fitness Annex - $1,717,442.38

Aguadilla Army Reserve Center- $19,674,589.07

Rio Puerto Nuevo Cont 2D Walls-$24,059,396.00

East Levee Repair (Barceloneta)-$3,219,090.99

Guajataca Dam Stage 2 Risk Reduction Measure- $5,815,005.41

Guajataca Dam Sluice Gate Stem Replacement- $787,504.50

Guajatca Dam Spillway Channel Reinforcement-$17,804,766.14

Rio Yauco Temporary Levee Repair- $2,283,888.39

Guajatca Dam Hydraulic System Replacement- $1,106,467.55

Salud Creek Streambank Protection- $1,059,800.90

Loiza Shoreline Protection- $3,586,866.55

Arecibo Harbor & Mayaguez Harbor O&M- $6,548,412.00

Rio Anton Ruiz Restoration- $3,782,216.29

 

On 14 April 2023, the Chief of Engineers approved the South Atlantic Division’s (SAD) proposal to establish Task Force Virgin Islands Puerto Rico (VIPR) to provide leadership, oversight, and support for USACE Civil Works and public infrastructure projects in US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and to provide construction management of all construction activities.  This proposal was developed by the SAD Commander’s Workload Management Tiger Team in coordination with HQUSACE in response to the fast growing, highly complex programs across the South Atlantic Division region, but in particular in the Jacksonville AOR.  The Task Force will recruit and employ a USACE team of program, project, and technical experts that focuses on safely delivering infrastructure programs and projects to the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on time and within budget.



En Abril de 2023, el Jefe de Ingenieros aprobó la propuesta de la División del Atlántico Sur (SAD) para establecer el Grupo de Trabajo Islas Vírgenes de Puerto Rico (VIPR) para brindar liderazgo, supervisión y apoyo a los proyectos de obras civiles e infraestructura pública del USACE en las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU. y Puerto Rico. Rico, y para proporcionar la dirección de obra de todas las actividades de construcción. Esta propuesta fue desarrollada por el Equipo Tigre de Gestión de la Carga de Trabajo del Comandante de SAD en coordinación con HQUSACE en respuesta a los programas altamente complejos y de rápido crecimiento en toda la región de la División del Atlántico Sur, pero en particular en el AOR de Jacksonville. El grupo de trabajo reclutará y empleará un equipo de USACE de expertos en programas, proyectos y técnicos que se centre en la entrega segura de programas y proyectos de infraestructura a las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU. y Puerto Rico a tiempo y dentro del presupuesto.

Frequent Asked Questions 
                         

Q: What is the Timeline for implementation?
A: Task Force VIPR will reach Initial Operating Capability (IOC) and assume command of the Civil Works mission in PR and USVI once all realignments of existing personnal are complete and high-priority positions are filled. IOC is anticipated to be achieved approximately 90 days from issuance of the SAD OPORD.  Task Force VIPR is anticipated to reach Full Operational Capability, which entails having the vast majority of initial positions filled, approximately 210 days from issuance of the SAD OPORD. 

The Jacksonville District, Antilles Area Office will continue to support Puerto Rico military and other projects however, TF VIPR will report directly to the South Atlantic Division Commander as part of the new structure, which accelerates decision making.

“I am excited that together we have the opportunity to take this great program and make it extraordinary.”  Jackie Keiser , Deputy Project Management, USACE TF VIPR, said ”One team, one mission for Puerto Rico. Task Force VIPR will have one focus and that is all current and future Civil Works projects in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands”.

The Task Force is currently identifying and seeking professionals with expertise and skills for various engineering positions.  This expertise with the addition of new and passionate leadership will fit the mission.  There will be future job positions advertised and contractors announced to meet requirements. 

Congress passed multiple supplemental funding bills (BBA 18, DRSAA and BIL) between 2018 and 2022 providing authorities and appropriations across USACE and particularly for SAD. The massive and rapid growth across the SAD Area of responsibility requires additional bandwidth for leadership, resources, and workload management to execute the program effectively and efficiently.

 

 

TF VIPR Projects

The Rio de La Plata project is sponsored by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) with a remaining project cost of $500 million.  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds were used to construct the project area referenced as Contract 1A. Regular cost-shared construction funds were used to construct the Dorado Bridge Channel & Scour Protection Contract. The remaining project segments were funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to address damages from Hurricane Maria. The Río de la Plata basin is located about 11 miles west of San Juan and drains approximately 240 square miles.

Heavy rainfall combined with the steep headwater slopes causes frequent flooding in the towns of Dorado, Toa Baja, and Toa Alta. Project features consist of 4.8 miles of channel improvements, 6.22 miles of levees, the replacement of 2 bridges, recreation facilities, and mitigation for the loss of environmental habitats. When completed, the project will provide over $12 million in annual economic benefits and 100-year flood protection downstream of PR Highway 2, including the towns of Dorado, Toa Baja, Toa Alta, Levittown, and the communities of Mameyal, Ingenio, and Campanilla.

The Rio Grande de Arecibo project is sponsored by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) at a cost of $174.1 million funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, Public Law 115-123 (BBA 2018) to address damages from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The project is located in the Municipality of Arecibo in west-central Puerto Rico.

The authorized project provides flood risk reduction for a 100-year flood event for the municipality of Arecibo and Los Caños area due to overflows from Rio Grande de Arecibo, Rio Tanama and Rio Santiago. The drainage basin covers 189 square miles characterized by steep mountains and the associated high velocity runoff. The recommended plan combines floodwalls and levees along the Arecibo River; channel improvements, three bridge replacements, diversion channel on the Santiago River; a short levee and channel on the Tanamá River; wetland mitigation site; and recreational facilities. This project provides flood protection and over $8 million in annual economic benefits for more than 86,000 Arecibo municipality residents.

 

The Rio Puerto Nuevo project is sponsored by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER). The total project cost is $2.7 billion and is 00% funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to address damages from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

Rio Puerto Nuevo is located in Metropolitan San Juan and it includes the Rio Piedras Drainage Basin and its tributaries. The Río Puerto Nuevo Basin drains 24 square miles, 75 percent of which is highly developed with a population of 250,000 persons. Rapid upstream runoff, inadequate channel capacity, constriction at bridges, and elimination of the flood plain by urbanization cause severe flooding to 7,500 residents, and 700 commercial and public structures valued at over $3 billion. The project includes nine discreet project segments that will be constructed through separate contracts between now and 2032.

When completed, the project will provide over $125 million average annual economic benefits and 100-year flood risk reduction to more than 250,000 area residents. 

Documentation:

Rio Puerto Nuevo Survey Report (Oct 1984)

Feature Design Memorandum (Nov 1999)

Feature Design Memorandum (Nov 1992)

 

The purpose of the project is to halt shoreline erosion and provide protection to two public buildings and a public road that are immediately landward of the project. Hurricane and coastal storm damages along the Loíza shoreline, including erosion causing receding shorelines, threatens infrastructure such as a public road, public buildings, commercial businesses, a public school, public parkland, private homes, and recreational beach access. It also contributes to public safety hazards.

At the request of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, USACE conducted a study along a portion of the shoreline of Loíza. The shoreline located in the study area is approximately 1,050 feet in length, and it is severely eroded. Chronic erosion has already impacted and continues to threaten public infrastructure and facilities.

The Corps previously assessed the effects of the 2018 Recommended Plan in the Final Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment, dated April 2018. Based on changed site conditions, the Recommended Plan has been updated to develop the 2019 Preferred Alternative which consist of:

• Construction of a continuous rock revetment along approximately 1,050 feet of shoreline in front of the public road, head start public school, and community center

• Elevation of the revetment crest will be approximately +9.0-ft to +10.0-ft Puerto Rico Vertical Datum of 2002 (PRVD02)

• The remaining sidewalk may need to be demolished due to existing damages and replaced with the over-wash protection zone, which consists of high performance.

Documentation:

Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment 2019

Notice of Availability

Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment 2018

 

The Río Antón Ruíz Continuing Authorities Program (CAP) Section 1135 project located in the Humacao Natural Reserve (HNR) in Humacao, Puerto Rico.

The purpose of the project is to provide a permanent solution to reduce the saltwater intrusion into the HNR system. The need of the project is driven by the increased salinity levels which have occurred following con of the 205 flood control project, which was completed in 2001.

The Corps of Engineers has conducted a supplemental environmental assessment (EA) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, (NEPA) in order to evaluate changed construction methodologies.

The Corps previously assessed the effects of the 2018 Recommended Plan in the Final Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment (IFR/EA) for the Río Antón Ruíz Continuing Authorities Program (CAP) Section 1135 project in Puerto Rico. A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was signed on February 9, 2018.

The 2018 final recommendation is contained in the IFR/EA and is incorporated to the current supplemental EA by reference. Based on changed site conditions, the 2018 Recommended Plan has been updated to develop the 2020 Recommended Plan, which consists of the following:

  • Installation of two sheetpile notched concrete cap weirs at the location of the temporary salt water intrusion measure (SWIM) structures. Weir #1 will be approximately 180 linear feet. Weir #2 will be approximately 140 linear feet.
  • Both weirs will have a notch that is 3 feet deep by 15 feet wide with a 2 feet by 1 foot concrete cap to allow for continued vessel and fauna transit.
  • Placement of riprap at the weirs starting from the location of the weir wall and extending approximately 25 feet downstream to protect from potential scouring.
  • Use of a vibration or impact hammer to drive the sheetpile from the streambanks and/or temporary work platforms, constructed of either soil or geobags full of soil, within the diversion canal and Río Antón Ruíz.
  • Permanent filling of scour holes adjacent to the weir in the diversion canal.

Details on the 2020 Recommended Plan can be found in the project’s draft supplemental EA. 

Project Documents: 

2020 Draft Supplemental EA

Final Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment

 

 

VIPR Implementation Overview

Contact Information

Task Force Virgin Islands Puerto Rico
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
 
Address: Fund. Ángel Ramos
Annex Building, Ste. 202
Avenida F.D. Roosevelt #383
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918
Phone: 1-787-729-6875
 
Corporate Communications:
TFVIPR-CCO@usace.army.mil
 

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