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TOKYO — Seven U.S.-based companies will get a shot at $4 billion worth of construction work related to the proposed military expansion on Guam, according to the Navy engineering command in the Pacific.

The contract — the largest ever awarded by Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific — gives the companies and joint venture groups the sole right to compete for money to build barracks, piers, utility grids, aircraft hangars and other facilities needed for the massive buildup plan, according to Don Rochon, spokesman for the engineering command.

This week’s announcement does not immediately give the companies any construction money toward the buildup. The expansion plan includes moving in 8,600 U.S. Marines from Okinawa, dredging the island’s main port to host visits from aircraft carriers and installing an Army air defense unit.

Instead, the "multi-award construction contract" pre-approves the seven companies to bid on future jobs associated with the buildup. Those jobs will involve specific construction projects ranging from $15 million to $300 million each, Rochon said Tuesday.

Before any construction money is spent, the Navy must finalize its environmental assessment — a complex "impact statement" that has drawn scrutiny from local and federal leaders.

Three of the seven companies are based in Honolulu: CNMS, A Joint Venture; Core Tech-AMEC-SKEC LLC; and Guam MACC Builders JV. The four others are: Dck-Ecc Pacific Guam LLC, of Clairton, Pa.; Hensel Phelps-Granite-Traylor Pacific JV, of Greeley, Colo.; Kiewit-Mortenson Joint Venture, of Kapolei, Hawaii; and Tutor Perini Corporation, of Sylmar, Calif.

The initial contract lasts for one year, with four one-year options to renew. The overall contract cannot exceed 60 months, according to a news release from the command.

In some cases, the companies are actually joint ventures that combine existing businesses from around the United States with offices in Hawaii and on Guam, Rochon said. None of the groups named in Monday’s awards include any Japanese companies, he said during a phone call on Tuesday morning.

Japan has pledged to pay $6.09 billion of the $10.27 billion estimated to move the Marines from Okinawa to Guam. To date, Japan has allocated $908 million toward the project, according to the Ministry of Defense. In January, the U.S. military began spending some of that on design work, which can go forward before the environmental review is finalized.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said the impact statement needs serious reworking to ensure safe growth on the island of 178,000 people. A final version of the statement is due out this summer.

In past months, leaders on Guam have asked the military to slow the construction pace, which currently funnels the bulk of construction and a temporary influx of nearly 80,000 people toward 2014. And many Okinawans continue to protest against the Marines’ move because the shuffling of troops includes a relocation — rather than an elimination — of a Marine Corps air base from one part of Okinawa to another.

Despite those hurdles, military planners are forging ahead with the buildup plans.

For consideration in the $4 billion award, companies had to bid on an actual project: a $23.41 million submarine learning center for Commander Submarine Squadron 15, an existing command on Guam.

The new learning center is not a part of the buildup, Rochon said, and the Navy has awarded the project to Dck-Ecc Pacific Guam LLC. The center is expected to be built by Nov. 2011.

Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

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