Alteration of Trunk Bay Switchback Being Investigated by National Park

The two consecutive switchbacks between Trunk Bay and Peter Bay, above, maybe reconstructed in the future for safety reasons.

The V.I. National Park (VINP) is considering reconstruction alternatives to the two concurrent switchbacks on the North Shore Road between Trunk Bay and Peter Bay, but the investigation has nothing to do with VITRAN’s recent interest in a North Shore bus route, said Lucious Sims, VINP chief of maintenance.

“The park is coming up with strategies for the reconstruction of the switchbacks in order to make the area more safe,” he said.

Switchbacks Too Steep
The hills at the switchbacks in the eastbound lane are too steep for some vehicles to traverse, requiring motorists to drive on the right side of the road, while alerting oncoming traffic with a blow of the horn.

This strategy may be uncomfortable for tourists and others who are new to the island, said Sims, who admitted that he has had two accidents in that area.

“I don’t know how to navigate those turns,” he said.

Jerry Runyon, project engineer with the Federal Highway Administration’s Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division, said that reconstruction of the switchbacks is feasible, but that ruins in the area must be protected.

“I know that’s been on the drawing board for a long time,” he said. “The park will make a decision on what we can and can’t do. There are a lot of ruins in that area, and the construction hasn’t been done yet because of the need to protect them.”

The design of the switchbacks could be improved, said Runyon.

“It probably can be done a little bit better,” he said. “Everything depends on the completion of an environmental study.”

Maho Bay Pavilion
The reconstruction of the Maho Bay pavilion is another item on the VINP to-do list.

The new facility will “mirror the one at Hawksnest,” said Sims.

The parking lot will not be as big as the one at Hawksnest, but will provide more spaces than the current parallel parking system at Maho.

Improved Toilets
The pavilion at Maho will also differ in its toilet facilities.

“We’re looking at a different type of toilet than at Hawksnest,” said Sims. “We want to bring it more into the 21st century.”

Sims said that he hopes to have the rendering for the new Maho facility by the end of February, and that the new pavilion is scheduled to be completed sometime this year.

After the pavilion is completed, management boulders will be installed to prevent parked cars from damaging vegetation.