Island Roads is continuing full speed ahead at the Cruz Bay roundabout, which — thanks to the contractor’s hard work and no unexpected problems — should be finished several months ahead of the originally scheduled completion date of June 2010.
Department of Public Works officials expect the project to be completed at the end of January 2010.
Crews have been focusing most of their recent efforts on Route 10 in front of Dolphin Market, which was being prepped for its final surfacing last week.
“We weren’t quite at finished grade for asphalt, so that’s what we’re working on now,” said DPW Materials Program Manager Thomas Jones.
The current grade and shape of the roundabout have essentially been finalized, Jones added.
“Believe it or not, although it’s very crude right now, it is working as a roundabout,” he said.
Some motorists are still unfamiliar with traffic laws governing the roundabout, which require incoming traffic to yield to cars already in the circle, according to Jones.
To ensure compliance, signage will be erected instructing motorists how to traverse the roundabout.
“We have so many signs going in that area that we’re reevaluating to see if we can make some signs smaller and whether we need certain ones,” said Jones. “Following Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division specifications, we’d have more signs up than people walking the street there.”
“Sometimes you have to tweak the specifications in the field to make it fit our conditions on St. John,” Jones said.
The utility pole currently in the center of the circle will be removed in one of the final phases of construction, once all utilities in the area are buried, which is almost complete, according to Jones.
“The only utility work we still have left to do is by the steps at the Julius E. Sprauve School annex,” he said. “We have to run underground utilities from there to the next pole down toward the police station. We will be tearing up the road again there within the next week.”
The final paving of the circle, which will be done all at once, could be very disruptive to motorists, so Island Roads is hoping to complete the paving overnight, Jones explained.
“When we start the paving operation, it’s not going to be hodgepodge like we’re doing right now,” he said. “We’ll start at one spot and go until we’re done. If we have a good night, have everything we need and get a good start, we should be able to get it done in one night.”
The final step of the roundabout construction will be the removal of the old Texaco gas station’s office, which Island Roads has been using as its headquarters for the project.
When the project is completed, the center of the circle will be stamped concrete simulated to look like stone and colored in a shade of yellow historically used by the Danish on St. Thomas.
The center will have a mountable curb for trucks who can’t traverse the circle, and large trucks traveling westbound on Route 10 to South Shore Road will be required to make one complete rotation around the circle rather than driving up on the sidewalk or attempting a three-point turn, according to Jones.
Most of the buildings framing the roundabout are being spruced up in an effort to beautify the entire area, Jones explained.
“Boulon Center was painted and they’ll be painting Dolphin Market too,” he said. “They’ve been working hard to finish a coral veneer at the Schnell building, and Parks and Rec will be painting the kiosk at the Winston Wells ball field.”
“That whole area will come right up and be completely beautified,” said Jones.