About 75 people, including V.I. Police Department officers, Department of Education officials and Human Services representatives, showed up at the Cruz Bay Legislature building on Thursday evening, June 21, to hear plans for the Cruz Bay traffic roundabout.
With 11 easels and numerous renderings depicting the seven stages of construction, Department of Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls explained the more than two-year process it will take to construct the territory’s first roundabout in the middle of Cruz Bay.
“This is perceived to be a major inconvenience,” said Smalls. “We are here tonight to lessen those fears and hear your comments about this project.”
Residents at the meeting shared a number of worries about the project from emergency services to the need for the roundabout in the first place.
Impact on Emergency Services
There were concerns regarding whether emergency personnel, including VIPD, Fire Department and EMS, would be able to respond quickly in case of emergencies. Some residents questioned the need for the project, while others predicted a complete paralyzation of the Cruz Bay area during construction of the roundabout.
While Julius E. Sprauve School elementary students, whose classrooms are in the Clarice Thomas Annex, will be relocated to the main campus, they will still be disrupted, explained JESS Principal Mario Francis.
“We are trying to be pro-active and we are planning to move all of the students out of the annex,” said Francis. “There will still be noise, pollution and dust which will interrupt instruction even when we move students to the main campus. What safeguards do you pan to implement for our children, our most precious resource.”
DOE Committed To Helping
The Department of Education will provide additional maintenance workers and will do whatever possible to minimize the project’s impact on JESS students, explained DOE’s Insular Superintendent Lisa Hassell-Forde.
“On the main campus there will be noise, but there are air conditioners in the rooms which will help,” said Hassell-Forde. “I am promising the St. John community whatever comes up I will work on behalf of the best interests of the students. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is our number one priority.”
The project, which consists of plans to bury all utilities including water, telephone and power lines, could easily bring Cruz Bay to its knees, explained resident Steve Crumerine.
“The project has the possibility to paralyze everything — phone, cable, water, power and sewage,” Crumerine said.
Time To Move Forward
Despite the concerns, it’s time for St. John to move forward and this project will improve a bad intersection, according to Smalls.
“We can’t stop this project — it’s already proceeding,” Smalls said. “We know the roads are narrow and that there will be disruption. But there has to be in order to move the territory and St. John forward.”
All right-of-way acquisitions have been completed with Texaco gas station slated to close on July 9. DPW and Federal Highway Administration officials are expecting to finish final designs for the round-about, at the intersection of Routes 10 (Centerline Road), 104 (Southshore Road), 210 and 102, in August.
The project should be out for bid by September and the contract is expected to be awarded in November. Actual construction should start in February 2008 and be completed around February 2010.
Trying To Minimize Disruption
“It appears to be a long project, but the length is because of the various phases to try to minimize the overall impact on St. John,” said Smalls. “As we are approaching the final design and trying to work out how to maintain traffic flow, we saw the need to bring the plans to you for comment.”
Construction will begin on Southshore Road, or Route 104, which will be closed from the intersection to Circle Drive, adjacent to St. Ursual’s Church, during the first phase of construction. The one-way portion of the road will be opened to two-way traffic during the project.
One lane of Route 102, on which the Cruz Bay Fire Station is located, will be closed in phase two. A temporary traffic light or flaggers will direct two-way traffic in the single open lane.
One Lane for Two-way Traffic
The second stage of phase two will see the other lane of Route 102 closed with a temporary traffic light controlling two-way traffic in the single open lane.
Construction on the west-bound lane of traffic on Centerline Road will begin in phase three, with a temporary traffic light regulating two-way traffic in the east-bound lane. Both lanes of Route 201, which passes in front of the Boulon Center, will close up to the second staircase during phase three as well.
The east-bound lane of Centerline Road will be closed to traffic with the west-bound lane open during phase four. Route 102 and 201 will be open by this phase.
The second stage of phase four will see the closure of both lanes of Centerline Road from Tage to the intersection.
The western portion of Southshore Road will remain closed until the beginning of phase five which will also include continued construction on the east-bound lane of Centerline Road and the corner near Dolphin Market.
Any miscellaneous construction, like curbs, sidewalks and gutters, which have not been completed will take place during phases six and seven.
While the project is fully funded, officials did not share the estimated cost of the roundabout construction.
No Word on Cost
“It is 100 percent funded,” said Spencer Beale, an engineering technician with the Federal Highway Administration. “We don’t know how much it will cost until we put it out for bid. I know how much it will cost, but I can’t tell you.”
It remained unclear after the meeting how long each phase will last.
“We don’t have a good idea of how long each phase will take,” said Beale. “We only have estimates for the beginning and end dates.”
For more information check the Web site www.efl.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/public%20notices/index.htm.