Texaco Roundabout Plans Nearing 90 Percent Completion

Texaco intersection will be converted into a roundabout.

The plans for St. John’s first roundabout are 90 percent complete, and the final details, from the movement of power and phone lines to the traffic pattern during construction, are being worked out.

Construction on the roundabout, which will be located at the Texaco intersection in Cruz Bay, could begin by mid- to late-2007, according to Department of Public Works Territorial Highway Program Manager Wystan Benjamin.

“We are scheduled to advertise for bids sometime in early Summer, 2007,” said Benjamin.

The project will be managed by the Eastern Federal Lands Division of the Federal Highway Administration, which recently managed the North Shore Road Rehabilitation Project on St. John.

Utilities and Power
A meeting has been scheduled to review the plans, Benjamin explained.

“We are nearing 90 percent complete on the drawings,” he said. “We have a 90 percent design meeting, with plans in hand, scheduled for January 9.”

Meetings have been conducted in recent weeks to coordinate power and utilities during construction.

“We just recently, within the past few weeks, had a coordination meeting on the utilities, with WAPA and Innovative,” said Benjamin. “We are going to meet the first of January to see where we are with that, and we are going to start getting ready to apply for the permits for the project.”

The intersection is located in Tier 1 of the coastal zone, and a major Coastal Zone Manage-ment permit will need to be obtained prior to construction, Benjamin explained.

Major CZM Permit
 “The permit that we need will be a major CZM permit, because that particular location is in Tier 1,” said Benjamin. “It’s a major permit, so we’re going to start moving that along as soon as the new year reaches us.”

DPW is examining whether the intersection, where several major thoroughfares meet in town, will be shut down during construction of the roundabout.

“The possibility of shutting down traffic is being looked at right now,” said Benjamin. “We had a meeting in November to look at traffic control issues, so we are working that out as we speak.”

The Federal Highway Administration will complete the project in stages to allow for traffic flow during construction.

DPW will attempt to coordinate traffic flow during construction, according to Benjamin.

“We will try to maintain access at all times,” he said. “When we took a very close look at it, it seemed difficult, but we will try to maintain access. We have been coordinating with (DPW St. John Deputy Director) Mr. (Ira) Wade a lot on this, because he is very familiar with the people and the activities around the intersection.”

Wade has been investigating alternate routes, including Circle Road — the road off South Shore Road where the St. John Inn is located — explained the DPW St. John Deputy Director.

“We walked through the area of what we would like to consider for an alternative route while they are working on the roundabout,” said Wade. “However, we found some areas of particular concern on Circle Drive, where larger vehicles would have some difficulty egressing.”

“We are going to sit back down again and try to work out a traffic flow plan, where we have flaggers and can let traffic trickle by while we are working,” he added.

Must Be Accessible
Keeping the intersection open during construction is important to certain businesses on South Shore Road, Wade explained.

“We might shut it down, but it would only be at certain hours of the day,” he said. “There are still businesses that must be serviced — the new bakery, the laundry, the department store.”

“Consideration was given to trying to make South Shore Road (between the Texaco and Pond Road) two-way again, but that’s not possible because we added sidewalks, which make it a one-way road,” Wade added.

“We just have to have good traffic control,” Wade added.

The Texaco gas station property was purchased by the government under eminent domain. The station is operating under a month-to-month agreement with the government.

“They are operating on a month-to-month basis, and they will be required to move, unless there is a change, by the end of July 2007,” said Wade.

The roundabout, which is being constructed to help traffic flow at the busy intersection, was the solution chosen by the St. John public, Wade explained.

“This was one of five traffic patterns that was presented to the St. John public, and the traffic circle was selected,” he said. “It should help the flow of traffic, because traffic shouldn’t have to stop with the roundabout. You can always enter and depart as you get to your egress site.”

The length of the construction project will likely be determined at the January 9 meeting, Benjamin explained.

“We don’t have a time frame on it yet,” he said. “We will probably take a closer look at the completion time when we have the plans at 90 percent in our hands. I just received a set of the drawings yesterday (December 12), and I haven’t taken a look at them yet.”

A lot of planning work has been done, according to Benjamin.

“It’s coming along,” he said. “We’ve been doing a lot of coordination. We’ve been working very hard behind the scenes.”