North Shore Road Rehab Delays Won’t Affect Overall Project – or Most Tourists

Despite delays experienced by St. Thomas contractor Island Roads on the North Shore Road Rehabilitation Project, the 14-part project is expected to remain on schedule with a completion date of October or November 2006.

The 460 consecutive days the contractor was given to complete the project should not be affected, according to Lucious Sims, V.I. National Park maintenance chief.

The first three sites on the schedule, which were to be completed by November 29, are construction of a stone wall and expansion of the Cruz Bay-Lind Point overlook, the expansion of the Hawksnest parking area and excavation of the slope for roadway realignment and widening of the road for increased sight distance and improved safety on the curve at Penn Point above Maho Bay, Sims said.

Unexpected Delays, Additional Work
The Hawksnest parking area, which was completed on Saturday, November 27, according to Sims, is the only one of these three sites which will meet the original completion date of November 29.

The completion dates for Lind Point and Penn Point projects were set back to January 31 due to unexpected delays, Sims said.

“At the Cruz Bay overlook, there was more work that had to be done than originally anticipated,” said Sims. “More excavation had to be done.”

Hurricane Wilma also affected the project, said the maintenance chief, who added that rebar used in the project was shipped from Florida, which was affected by the hurricane.

The site at Penn Point also faced unexpected delays because the project requires a lot of heavy machinery, said Sims, who added it was difficult to maneuver the machinery to the island.

Getting concrete to the area to construct a curb and gutter was another problem at the site above Maho Bay, said the maintenance chief.

“There’s always big problems with concrete – there’s so much construction going on here, and it’s very expensive to have concrete come over on the barge from St. Thomas,” said Sims. “It’s a situation where you’re waiting in line, waiting until the concrete company here can get you a truck out.”

Exact Order of Work Not Finalized
Island Roads will be working on three sites at a time, and the exact order of the work is not finalized, Sims said.

“Our plan is to complete everything this side of Trunk Bay in order to get the machinery on the other side of the Trunk Bay switchback,” Sims said. “They have to come back through Cruz Bay and go up Centerline – they can’t traverse the terrain because of the switchback.”

“Because of delays, the time table has been totally changed and I won’t get that until I have my next meeting after Thanksgiving,” Sims added.

According to the original plan for the project, highly trafficked areas were to be completed before the peak season, December through May; however, due to the unexpected delays, the original completion date is no longer feasible.

“They (Island Roads) asked if we wanted them to stop, and we decided no, we want them to continue, so we’ll have to make the best of it – we were able to get Hawksnest complete for the season, and we’re going to continue straight through” Sims said. “The only place that you will really encounter any problems is passing in at Cruz Bay, because the bulk of the visitors don’t go any further than Trunk, really.”

Other Improvements Ahead
The $2.8 million project to rehabilitate areas of the North Shore Road, which began July 11 with the construction of the Cruz Bay-Lind Point overlook, is funded by the Federal Highway Administration in cooperation with the V.I.N.P.

Additional North Shore Road improvements to be completed during the 14-part project include: repair of cracking and settlement at several sites; installation of management boulders and signage to control parking, a new low water crossing and excavation and widening of the parking lot at Jumbie Bay; striping the pavement and installation of directional arrows, management boulders and signage to control parking at Trunk Bay; and installing signage to improve traffic control at the switchback at King Hill, removing the trench drain and installing a concrete waterway and a 30-inch pipe, Sims told St. John Tradewinds in a previous interview.

Management boulders to prevent vehicles from damaging natural vegetation at Maho Bay will also be installed; however, this project will not begin until a separate project to renovate the Maho Bay Pavilion is complete, said Sims. The company is doing construction documents for the pavilion, he added.

“We do plan to have work well on the way this season,” said Sims.

The Maho Bay renovation project, which will resemble the newly renovated Hawsknest Pavilion according to Sims, will include demolition of all but a small section of the existing pavilion’s main building.

Delays Won’t Affect Original Timeline
Despite the delays encountered by Island Roads, the contractor should still be able to complete the project within the 460 consecutive days it was originally given as a timeline, according to Sims.

“It should still be able to come in within that time frame,” said the maintenance chief. “The time frame has not been extended.”