The Christiansted bypass was the largest Department of Public Works project in the territory. It was also one of the most delayed. Envisioned in the 70s, it was not finished until over three decades later. During those years, many Crucians gave up hope that there would ever be a good way to get from one end of the island to the other without navigating the narrow and cranky streets of Christiansted.
Sen. Kenneth Gittens in a meeting of the Committee on Government Operations, Veterans Affairs, and Consumer Protection, pointed out that in such large projects, politics often get in the way, as with every change of administration, there is a change of priorities.
However, he added, on this project, one man always stuck to it – Aloy “Wenty” Nielsen.
Members of the Committee agreed with Gittens and moved with a unanimous favorable vote an act honoring Nielsen for his years of service to the Virgin Islands community and naming the Christiansted bypass in his honor and making a $10,000 appropriation for signage at Aloy Nielsen Bypass.
“Many Virgin Islanders may not immediately recognize the name Aloy “Wenty” Nielsen, but every day, Virgin Islands residents and visitors alike benefit from his skill, management and planning expertise. Mr. Nielsen has remained a steadfast champion of the Christiansted Bypass Project despite decades of delays and ultimately spearheaded the start of the construction of the long-awaited Bypass. In moving these projects forward, Mr. Nielsen was the quiet superhero that every team needs – working hard behind the scenes to make things happen. For his significant contributions to the development of the territory’s transportation infrastructure and his steadfast commitment to making the bypass a reality, it is most fitting that the Christiansted Bypass be named in Mr. Nielsen’s honor. Credit should be given where credit is due,” said Senate President Novelle Francis who co-sponsored and authored bill no. 35-0010.
The completion of the bypass was not the only accomplishment by Nielsen touted at the hearing. Nielsen retired from the Department of Public Works in 2007; after 28 years of experience in the administration of the territory’s federal-aid highway program. He was involved in the administration of numerous highway projects and the expenditure of millions of allocated federal highway funds.
The Act says he spearheaded the construction of the widening of the Moravian Highway on St. Thomas to four lanes from Nisky Center to the access road to the Cyril E. King Airport; managed several significant road projects, including Melvin Evans Highway and the Long Bay Road on St. Thomas. He is also credited with directing the pedestrian sidewalk designs that were constructed in several locations on St. Croix.
He conducted an architectural design competition for the design of the Millennium Monument being constructed at Point Udall. This project led to an article in the Architectural Record and was featured in a Federal Highway Quarterly Newsletter.
The redesign of Buddhoe Park in Frederiksted for the 150th Anniversary of the emancipation of slavery in the territory was also his project. The $3 million project was designed in-house and constructed within three months. He is also said to have played a significant role in the construction of the Christiansted Boardwalk.
Robert Moorehead, former Adjutant General of the V.I. National Guard, testified at the hearing that he could not think of anyone more deserving of the honor being bestowed than Nielsen. He said Nielsen was an “awesome individual.”
Nielsen, in response to a question from Committee Chair Carla Joseph, said he was able to energize colleagues by helping them understand how significant a project was.
The Act will be forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.
The bypass, proposed in 1972 and in the planning stages since 1975, was aimed at relieving traffic congestion, improving safety and restricting large vehicles through the downtown Christiansted area. The 1.2-mile parkway runs from Contentment Road east to end at the East End Road and Mt. Welcome Road.
The bypass has two 12-foot lanes, paved shoulders and a climbing lane on the east end. There are sidewalks and curbs along the north side, as well as streetlights and traffic signals.
Workers broke ground on the bypass in May 2007. It was officially opened in January 2013.
Sens. Joseph, Gittens, Novelle Francis, Jr., Samuel Carrión, Javan James, Alma Francis Heyliger, Ray Fonseca, Marise James, Diane Capehart, and Milton Potter were present.