Plans to install new guardrails and replace old ones on the windy Centerline Road are underway as part of the Federal Highway’s safety program which is using stimulous funds to improve roads throughout the territory, according to Department of Public Works St. John Deputy Director Ira Wade.
“Guardrails will be put in throughout various areas on Centerline Road and all the way out to the East End,” Wade said. “We will be installing new guardrails in areas we do not have them right now and we will be replacing the old ones that have become ineffective.”
This means good news for island drivers traveling along particularly dangerous areas, such as the scene of last month’s fatal car accident heading west on Centerline from Coral Bay above the Reef Bay Trail.
“In the last two or three years, we have had three accidents in that exact area,” said Mike Jordan, public information officer for St. John Rescue. “It’s been a significant danger area. In the last five years that I’ve been with Rescue, we have had to rappel down that hill three times.”
Jordan said if a person is driving the speed limit, they should never have a problem with that part of the road.
“But when people speed, combined with the fact that they are going downhill, especially when it is raining, it can be very dangerous,” he said. “There should definitely be a guardrail there. It is in an area going downhill where cars have more speed than when they are going uphill, and it also seems that he embankment falls off a bit, which would further encourage a problem for those going faster.”
When St. John Rescue called the Department of Public Works to discuss installing a guardrail in that particular area, even offering to help fund it, Wade said plans were already in the works.
“He said Public Works already had it under control and funds were set aside, but I let him know that St. John Rescue would be happy to help in any way that we can,” said Chris Jordan, St. John Rescue’s president.
The Federal Highway’s safety program which will bring more guardrails to St. John has already been approved, and Wade said as soon as the funding is in hand, Public Works will send out the request for bids.
“We will review the bids, pick the best and most responsive bid and award a contract,” he said.
Wade estimated the project will commence within the next six months but said the time line is contingent upon how busy the island’s contractors are.
“The problem is we only have three major contractors here,” Wade said. “With all the work they have going on, it is a matter of when they can fit the project in.”