Eight years of planning and preparation will come to light on September 28, when reconstruction and resurfacing will commence on the island’s badly damaged North Shore Road.
The weathered and worn road has not been completely repaved in 16 years, but islanders can look forward to a smoother drive within a year, according to Mark Hardgrove, Superintendent of the V.I. National Park.
“The project is expected to take nine to 11 months,” Hardgrove said. “We’ll have the potholes filled within the first week and we think there will be about nine months of reconstruction and one month of paving.”
St. Thomas-based Island Roads was awarded the $4.5 million contract on August 6, according to Keith Macneir, VINP’s Chief of Maintenance.
In an earlier Tradewinds interview, Hardgrove said the project was originally funded at $4.9 million but received extra funding to meet an increased budget of $8.1 million to cover the rising costs of construction over the past eight years.
Because the bid from Island Roads came in at just over half of the project’s current budget, Macneir said the remaining money will be returned to Federal Highway to be funneled into other projects.
Filling the potholes along the road and setting up safety and traffic management signage will be the first steps in the project.
“The patching of the potholes was not originally in the scope of the project, but the contractor has offered to fill in the potholes at no additional charge to the park or government,” Macneir said.
Once the potholes are filled, reconstruction of the road will begin at Cruz Bay and head toward Annaberg, Hardgrove said.
“We’ve got major sections of the outer road that are failing,” he said. “The road is in a very unsafe condition, but we are building them back to federal highway standards.”
Hardgrove said heavy weight from traffic on the worn road has pushed the soft surface from under the road and an 18-inch excavation on the outer edges of the road will be required to reinforce it.
“We are not just repairing the road, we are actually reconstructing the base of the roads and putting new pavement surface on top of the new road bed,” the superintendent said. “We can’t just put a band aid on it — we have to do surgery first.”
Flashing signs to manage traffic will be in place during road work, which will be underway five days a week.
“The road traffic will be down to one lane at a time in some areas,” Hardgrove said. “But the traffic wait is not expected to exceed five minutes.”
Macneir also said drivers can look forward to having a yellow center stripe down the length of North Shore Road again.
“We are just looking forward to having this complete,” he said. “But we do need to exercise caution during the project, not only for the other vehicles on the road, but also for the workers who will be out on the roadside.”