Top officials from Public Works told a gathering of St. John residents Thursday they’ve taken to heart the public’s complaints about conditions on the island’s main road.
Commissioner designee Nelson Petty brought the agency’s road project manager to a town meeting hosted by St. Thomas-St. John District Senator Donna Frett-Gregory in Cruz Bay. The town meeting was the second in a series of forums on St. John arranged by members of the 33rd Legislature.
Petty told the audience at the Cleone Creque Legislative Hall that of all the dilapidated roadways in the Virgin Islands, St. John’s Centerline Road ranked second over all. Portions of the road are already under consideration for repairs, but he cautioned residents not to get their hopes too high.
“One of the big projects we are looking at, in particular, is Centerline Road. And that’s not any time soon,” he said.
The last time Centerline Road – Route 10 – got end-to-end attention was during the administration of former Gov. Alexander Farrelly in 1992. Since then portions of the road have undergone repair from damage caused by Hurricane Marilyn in 1995 and Subtropical Storm Otto in 2010.
During the first Legislative town meeting, hosted by Senator-At-Large Steven Payne earlier this month, Public Works engineer Attley Connor said he surveyed St. John roads and identified 17 trouble spots in need of attention.
At the March 13 meeting, DPW Road Projects Director Jomo Mclean said funding options are already being matched to work on some of Centerline’s trouble spots.
“Like the commissioner said, Centerline Road is a priority for us. We just got the second tranche approved, and we’re still in the process of executing and dealing with Housing Finance Authority, so we can have access to the funds so we can start the design for that project,” Mclean said.
Because portions of St. John’s main road run through portions of the Virgin Islands National Park and the Coral Reef Underwater Monument, Public Works is also looking to partners with Eastern Federal Lands Highway for financial help. In fact, Mclean told those attending the meeting, steps have already been taken to prepare that portion of road repair for the bidding process.
“We have another project on Centerline Road that was Hurricane Irma and Maria damaged, that Eastern Federal Lands – one of our partners – is currently being advertised on their website, so that pre-solicitation started on their website two weeks ago,” the project manager said.
The two officials also addressed concerns raised at the March meeting about completing pre-hurricane road repairs on Fish Bay Road, Rt. 107.
At the first town meeting Connor said additional portions of Fish Bay Road were damaged in the 2017 storms. At the second meeting, Mclean said outstanding portions of the earlier project are slated for completion.
“That’s still in construction right now. Right now, we’re executing a supplemental contract to take care of additional repairs that were incurred as a result of the hurricanes. As soon as that supplemental contract is completed, the contractor will resume work,” he said.