A new speed bump welcomes visitors to the V.I. National Park near the Lind Point Trail head on North Shore Road.
After more than 15 months and $5 million, North Shore Road is almost complete with reconstruction, new paving, striping and traffic calming devices installed.
“The road is probably 95 percent complete and the contract period was extended through January 12 to allow time to recover from the storm damage and the weather that we had,” said V.I. National Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove.
Contractor Island Roads’ crews were set back about two weeks from Hurricane Earl, and Tropical Storms Otto and Tomas, Hardgrove explained.
“They can’t pave when the moisture is too high or there is water on the pavement,” he said. “You can see areas where the pavement rippled from the water and the crew went back and repaved those areas.”
The project was launched in September 2009 with about $1.2 million from the VINP fee program and $1 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds. The remainder of the $5.2 million was from the National Park Service Federal Highway Fund.
Over the more than year’s worth of work on the VINP road, Island Roads’ workers meshed with park employees and visitors, Hardgrove explained.
“They did a great job and they really became part of the park,” said the VINP superintendent. “They really appreciated the visitors and I saw a lot of pleasure and pride in their eyes. I always called them my heros.”
In total, the crew reconstructed several miles of the road, then paved about nine miles of roadway along the North Shore, from the VINP Visitors’ Center parking lot all the way to Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins and Francis Bay and even up to Centerline Road.
“We did about three miles of reconstruction that was quite a lot of work and took several months,” said Hardgrove. “Then there was about four or five months of paving and striping.”
While crews got some center line striping complete last month, an abundance of road projects across the country made paint difficult to obtain, Hardgrove explained.
“I believe due to the amount of road work being done all over the country, they’ve actually run out of paint in the U.S.,” he said. “We were able to get some paint from another job that Island Roads was doing. They started striping again and next week they’ll come out swinging and finish up the striping.”
“We’re really looking froward to completing the center line because I don’t think anyone understands how much of the road they take up from other people when they don’t stay in their lane,” Hardgrove said.
Over the 15 months of work, there were two close calls by subcontractors carrying paving loads in VINP, explained Hardgrove.
“We had two close calls, two different incidents, when two loaded dump trucks flipped over,” he said. “I want to thank Dr. Gary Ray for the site restoration he did on the North Shore with native tree plantings.”
No one was injured during either incident, and damage to resources was kept to a minimum, Hardgrove added.
“Both of the drivers bailed out and weren’t hurt,” he said. “It seemed both subcontractors were youngsters who were trying to make good time.”
With the use of “automatic flagmen,” or temporary traffic lights, VINP officials were able to keep the road open to traffic throughout the project.
“The exception was when the dump truck flipped and we had to close the road for a 24-hour period,” said the VINP superintendent.
One of the final stages of the project arose last week, the five large “traffic calming devices,” or speed bumps, which were installed late last month. The first one greets vehicles entering VINP at Lind Point, and makes its point, as anyone who may have hit it with a bit too much speed, can attest.
“The traffic calming devices really work,” said Hardgrove. “They were placed prior to coming to a trail head where there are pedestrian crossings. At Cinnamon there will also be a pedestrian walkway to the new accessible trail head.”
Speed bumps on North Shore Road are located at Lind Point, Jumbie Bay, which has two, Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay. One additional speed bump may also be installed near Maho Bay, Hardgrove added.
“The good news is that law enforcement officers now don’t have to worry so much about speed control,” said the VINP superintendent. “The investment we made in speed control will pay for itself in time. It was well worth it.”
While the speed bumps will take some of the work off VINP rangers’ the park is enforcing speed limits on North Shore Road, Hardgrove explained.
“Occasionally you will see law enforcement parked at the Caneel Bay pull off with a radar gun,” he said. “They are enforcing the speed limit up there. The maximum speed there is 20 miles per hour.”